Smith rises to the challenge
Chayce Smith and Ashley Berry were runaway champions in the Butterfield & Vallis 5K, as the road race and walk attracted a bumper field of more than 1,000 participants.
And if Smith was feeling any lingering tiredness after winning the Bermuda Triangle Challenge last weekend, he did not let it show as he assumed a front-running position and held it throughout.
With some of the island’s fastest athletes taking part, including Chris Estwanik and two-times Olympian Tyler Butterfield, Smith stayed on his toes ready to respond to the challenge when it arose.
However, the expected battle royal never materialised. Butterfield had eased back on his running after storming to victory in the Bermuda Marathon last week. He and his brother, Spencer, together with Estwanik, opted to run as a group a few minutes off the lead pace.
That left Smith, 30, up front with defending champion Stephen Allen in close pursuit. At the two-mile point, Smith switched gears and broke clear to take the title in 16min 19sec, with Allen next in 16:35. The third runner over the line was Quincy Kuzyk, in 17:07. He won the senior schools’ title, a division that was run in conjunction with the main race.
With so many big names entered in the event, Smith admitted he felt pre-race nervousness in anticipation for what could have been the race of the year. While satisfied with his performance, he felt he could have gone sub-16 if he had been under more pressure.
“I expected Tyler and Chris to be pushing five-minute mile pace, because they know at the end of the day I have a kick. But after the first mile I figured that they were not coming,” he said.
Competing over the distances of one mile, 10K and half-marathon last week to win the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, Smith said he felt proud of that achievement, which included a 1hr 17min half-marathon. He was disappointed not be selected for the elite men’s Front Street Mile. Smith believes he might have been in with a shout as he has previously run quicker than the winning time of 4:31.
Woman’s champion Berry, 25, was making a rare race appearance on the island. She is studying medicine in England and has been concentrating on the 5K distance.
She confidently slotted in among the main chasing group and led the women’s division from start to finish. Her time of 17:46 was the fastest by a woman on the course since Ashley Estwanik in 2008.
Berry regularly competes in five-kilometre races near her university in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, regularly clocking finishing times around 19 minutes. Yesterday, she went more than a minute faster, explaining that the combination of the warmer weather and spectators cheering helped lift her to a quicker time.
Jennifer Alen, 33, a four-times winner, put in a strong showing to take second place in 19:12. Having finished runner-up in the local women’s Front Street Mile a little more than a week earlier, she admitted feeling the pace as she worked to keep Berry within sight during.
Alen was pleased with her finishing time, and is now focusing on preparing for the Vitality Westminister Mile in London in May. Third woman was Kristen Palmer in 20:09.
This year’s 5K received a boost from Butterfield & Vallis celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Butterfield family have a strong running pedigree, with Olympian Tyler also a top-five finisher in the Kona World Ironman Championships, Spencer a past winner of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, and their mother, Debbie, a former winner of Bermuda’s international marathon.
Jim Butterfield, company owner and also former Olympian and top-ten finisher at the World Ironman Championships, competed in the race along with his wife, sons and other family members. Afterwards, he expressed delight at the overwhelming support the race had received, saying: “It’s wonderful, we have a lot of people and first-timers. And as a company, we have 100 employees taking part.”
Tyler Butterfield echoed that sentiment. “It’s nice to see so many people racing. It’s a family event and the kids were out running. The main thing is people staying healthy,” he said.
After running a 2:27 marathon a week ago, Butterfield spent the next seven days doing recovery swims and some cycling, including a 100-mile ride the day before the 5K. He said it was important to hold back on returning to high-intensity running too soon after a hard marathon. The 5K was an opportunity to stretch his legs. Together with brother Spencer and Estwanik, Butterfield completed the course in 19:54.
“It was nice to see people racing, and to be in the ‘hub’ of the race that I don’t normally get to see. The level of running — it’s incredible how strong it is in Bermuda.”
He tipped his hat to Smith, noting that while he had stepped back from the sharp end of the race to recover from his marathon, Smith went out to win. “It’s incredible. Chayce did the triple challenge last week, which would have been like a marathon.”
Butterfield is now focusing on preparing for the Commonwealth Games in April, and is transitioning from base training to speed work in the weeks ahead.
Yesterday’s 5K event included races from 1K to 5K for primary, middle and senior school students. There was also a 5K walk, which was won by Joseph Matthew in 33:07.
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