Hoey hoping for jubilant return
Nikki Butterfield and Christine Dailey, first and second women’s finishers in the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby last year, will be missing from the 110th annual race, which starts in St George’s tomorrow.
One top contender returning after a four-year absence is Rose-Anna Hoey, who will be among the contenders along with Deon Breary, Martina Olcheski-Bell and Gayle Lindsay.
Butterfield, wife of Tyler Butterfield, is pregnant and will not be returning from Colorado to defend her title, while Dailey is out with an injury.
“Sadly, I’m not running after coming second last year when I put in a lot of effort and was hoping to win,” Dailey said.
“Coming second to Nikki was really tough and I was hoping to try to gun it for first this year. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait another year.”
Butterfield finished 22nd overall last year to win the women’s title in a time of 1hr 33min 20sec, five places and 47 seconds ahead of Dailey.
“It’s not a running injury, but it prevented me from training,” Dailey said. “It’s such a big event for the island and obviously I wanted to do it really badly, so I kind of waited to see if it was something I could pull off but a couple of weeks ago I realised not.”
Hoey, who won the women’s race in 2013, was the third in 2015 when the racecourse returned to a St George’s start or finish for the first time since 1976 when the race finished in St David’s. Merenette Bean was the first official women’s competitor that year.
After several requests from East End residents to reintroduce a course to St George’s, the race committee decided to alternate the course in 2015 with a start in the Olde Towne.
The women’s race that year was a battle of the Ashleys, with Ashley Estwanik beating out first-time competitor Ashley Berry.
“I didn’t have a great race [in 2015], had a stress fracture in my pelvis at the time and maybe rushed it a little bit and returned to racing a little bit too soon,” Hoey remembers. “I came third so it was a reasonably decent result.
“Everybody wants to win it; it is the most important race on the calendar.”
Hoey is tipping Olcheski-Bell and Lindsay to be among the main contenders. Olcheski-Bell was third last year and Lindsay fourth.
“It should be a pretty good contest,” she added. “I have put in some decent training for this race. I was quite sick early in the year but seemed to have regained form, so I just want to be able to run a decent time.”
Hoey was hoping to avoid the pre-race pressure that comes with being one of the favourites.
“I was kind of hoping for that; I feel like I hid under the radar quite nicely up until today,” she joked.
“I’m a busy mom and win, lose or draw, I still have to go home and make my son’s lunch at 12 o’clock!
“It’s such an important event for the people of Bermuda and I’m excited to give it a good go this year. I had a bit of a break, wanted to try out the cycling race a few times and enjoyed that. I figured this year I’m in fairly decent shape so I’d give it a go.”
Hoey picked up a hip injury in a cycling accident a few years ago, which she said still occasionally resurfaces.
“Last year I had hoped to do May 24 and the hip injury flared up again,” she said. “I had a bad bike accident, which damaged the joint. I’m feeling pretty good about it this, and did enjoy the cycle races.
“My ultimate goal would be to win the cycle race one year, but I don’t think that’s going to happen with the likes of Caitlyn [Conyers] and Nicole [Mitchell]. No woman has ever won the running race and cycling race so that would be a major accomplishment.”
By lunchtime yesterday, 894 runners had signed up for the race. Prize money includes $3,500 for the overall male and female finishers. Second male and female will earn $1,250, with third place finishers in both categories picking up $650.
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