Kemal adds Half-Marathon to 10K crown

  • Birhanu Dare Kemal crosses the line in the Half-Marathon (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Birhanu Dare Kemal crosses the line in the Half-Marathon (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Birhanu Dare Kemal, of Ethiopia, beat countryman Gimma Bekele Gebre by two-and-a-half minutes to win the Bermuda Half-Marathon yesterday.

Kemal never looked back after breaking away from a lead group of about seven at the two-mile mark as the runners headed east along South Shore Road. Kemal, who won the Bermuda 10K the day before, looked comfortable as he slowly opened up a lead on his way to a winning time of 1hr 11min, with Gebre coming in 1:13:33 and Andrew Pitts, of the United States, third in 1:16:07.

“Yes, it was very nice,” Kemal said. “It was a bit windy, but the course was really nice, I liked it. I just kept going.”

Bermudian Chayce Smith, competing in the half-challenge, was among that early group, which also contained triathlete Tyler Butterfield. Smith, who later ran with Butterfield for several miles, was fourth overall in 1:17:19.

Pitts was a part of that early lead pack, too, and ran a strong race to finish in the top three.

“I’m not a half-marathon runner so as a middle-distance runner I thought it was very good on a humid day,” Pitts said of his performance.

“I’m a miler or 1,500 metres and I ran in the Front Street Mile. I’m very happy, I usually try to keep a 6.10 to 6.20 [mile] pace during long runs when I am in peak fitness. The only question mark was the humidity today.

“I was very happy for the water breaks and the crowds were great, just a great environment. I had a great time here, this is my first time here. I would love to come back next year.”

The lead group went through the first mile in 5:37 before Kemal opened up a small lead outside Botanical Gardens. By mile three near the gas station before Collector’s Hill, the Ethiopian had about an 40 metre lead as he went through mile three in 16.24.

That lead opened to about 100 metres over second-placed runner Gebre going up McGall’s Hill as Kemal looked stronger and stronger as he went through mile five near John Smith’s Bay in 27.15. Despite his comfortable win, Kemal was five minutes slower than last year’s winning time of 1:05:54 by another Ethiopian, Diriba Degefa Yigezu.

Smith, who attempted the half-challenge for the first time, was pleased with his time of 1:17:19.

“I did the challenge this year so I was pretty much trying to preserve myself for the last event,” he said. “I have difficulties with half-marathons so I’m trying to get more confidence. This event pretty much got me more confident for running half-marathons in the future.

“The conditions were real good, some people were complaining about the humidity but I felt pretty good, took my time. In the beginning I felt I could go with those guys but I can only do what I’m trained for.

“They started off real slow, around 5:45 and then after about three miles they went into a 5:30 pace. My legs were pretty much tired before I started. I ran with Tyler for about six miles and then when he started to go I just settled into about a six-minute pace.

“I never really pushed myself, nobody to race after awhile, so I was just trying to finish the event.”

Smith, who has his sights on the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon, admits he is up to doing another triangle challenge during Marathon Weekend.

“This is the first challenge I’ve done and, yes, I’ll definitely do it again and try to improve each year I do it,” he said. “This is a tool to get ready for May 24. As far as training goes, I know I’m on the right track.”

Dara Filut, from New York, was excited to win the women’s category in 1:31:48, 18th overall.

“I was just running it for fun, enjoying my time in Bermuda,” she said. “I had no goal expectations, this is my first time here. The crowds were great, they kept telling me to go get the first place girl and I ended up catching her around mile nine. I’ll definitely come back, I love it here.”

Rose-Anna Hoey had to settle for second place, clocking a time of 1:35:38 to finish 24th overall. Another local runner, Melissa Logie, was the third female, 28th overall, in 1:36:54.

Domico Watson, a Bermudian graphic designer living in London, came back to compete in his first Triangle Half Challenge, clocking 1:40:07 yesterday in the final event. He is the son of former middle-distance runners Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, and Mike Watson.

“I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would after three days of running,” the 25-year-old said. “I was here for Christmas and stayed awhile to run around and get used to the humidity and sun.

“I’m just happy to go from not being fit at all to being able to do the triangle challenge in pretty decent time. I don’t think they even did the half-marathon or marathon. Maybe I’ll do it again next year, it was a good experience. I run a lot in London, not to compete, but to stay fit.”

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Published Jan 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm (Updated Jan 14, 2018 at 11:11 pm)

Kemal adds Half-Marathon to 10K crown

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