Disciplined DeGraff outlasts rival Trott
A disciplined display of pace running resulted in Sammy DeGraff scoring a personal best as he won the Friends of Hospice/Hannover Re half-marathon in 1hr 15min 2sec.
Among the women it was Sarah Thompson who blazed a trail to the title with almost four minutes to spare over her nearest rival.
In the early stages, DeGraff, 38, trailed two-times winner Sean Trott, who had set out with intentions of running 5:30-minute miles.
However, a heavy training schedule began to tell as Trott’s pace dropped and DeGraff held steady on his slightly more conservative pace.
By the turnaround at Paynters Road, it was neck-and-neck, and then DeGraff edged ahead after nine miles and increased his advantage to just over a minute by the time he reached the finish line opposite the South Road entrance to the Botanical Gardens.
The former Bermuda and North Village footballer said the race was part of his preparation for the PwC Marathon, which is part of The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January.
“The main aim was to hold 5:45 [mile splits] and depending on how I felt to pick it up, and that’s what happened. Some of my splits were in the 5:30s.
“There was a bit of wind and inclines on the way back. At the incline near Mid Ocean Golf Course, that’s when I passed Sean,” he said.
“This is a big confidence booster, not just winning, but more so the time. My goal is to hold 5:45 for the marathon.”
DeGraff is in the middle of a 16-week training block. In sporting circles he is best known for his footballing exploits, which included playing for Bermuda Hogges, North Village Rams and the national team.
He said: “Running comes more natural to me than football, although I have been playing football my whole life. I’ve always had a slim physique, and long distance running comes naturally. The first time I did May 24 that was at the end of the football season, and I did not train for it, it was just based off from playing football, and I did quite well. That made me wonder how good I can get.
“Each year I’d do it, and I used to average 7:20, 7:30 pace, and I thought I can go faster than this if I start to train for it. So I did.”
Family life meant he has not been seen at races very often, but he has returned with renewed focus for the marathon in January.
“The breaking two-hour project, where Eliud Kipchoge just ran under two hours for the marathon — that gave me a lot of inspiration. So I really stated to run a lot again. I’ve been learning, and seeing constant improvement.”
In the half-marathon, Trott finished second in 1:16:14, while Spencer Butterfield was third in 1:22:31.
Among the women, Thompson, 42, assumed a commanding lead from the start and showed no weakness as she powered to a time of 1:39:33. Behind her, Laura Graham was the lead chaser in the opening five miles, before being overtaken by Andrea Luber, who claimed the runner-up spot in 1:43:24. A strong final few miles saw Tamika Miranda overtake Graham and secure third place in 1:45:06.
Thompson, like Degraff, is training for the marathon in January. She said: “It was pretty warm, and windy on the way back in. I knew there were a few of the normal female winners not in attendance today, that always helps. I was aiming for 1:40 and did just under, so I’m happy with that.”
In the 10K, Ryan Outerbridge, 16, won in 37:17 to beat defending champion Christopher Harris, who was second in 37:59, ahead of Kwame Curling in 38:38. The top woman was Laura Knox-Clingerman, 40, in 45:23, ahead of Stepanka Sprincova in 45:55, and Bonnie Mills in 46:25.
The 5K was won by Kahzi Sealey, 15, in 18:27, from Jauza James in 19:32, and Ensue’-nico Davis in 20:15. Top woman was Jezhari Talbot, 15, in 23:01, from Alexandra Mellor, in 23:24, and Zoe Hasselkuss in 23:54.
First in the 5K walk was Howard Williams, 49, in 37:23, ahead of first woman Suranji Rathnayake, 33, in 42:15, while in the 10K walk, Gina Bradshaw, 62, was first in 1:21:10, with Tom McMahon, 56, first man in 1:21:44.
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