Mbelenzi makes victorious return

  • New champions: Deon Breary won the women’s title in the Goslings to Fairmont Southampton race for a third time, while Dennis Mbelenzi won the race for the first time 

(Photograph by Scott Neil)

    New champions: Deon Breary won the women’s title in the Goslings to Fairmont Southampton race for a third time, while Dennis Mbelenzi won the race for the first time (Photograph by Scott Neil)

An opportunity to race in Bermuda again paid off for Dennis Mbelenzi when he won the Goslings to Fairmont Southampton road race at his third attempt.

The former island resident did so off limited training as he begins to step up his running having rested for a month after racing in the New York City Marathon in November.

Meanwhile, Deon Breary completed a hat-trick of victories as she lifted the women’s trophy, having also done so in 2012 and 2016.

On a warm morning, Mbelenzi, 38, aimed for a sub-six minute mile pace to build a margin of safety between himself and the other 206 finishers.

He was in the lead by the time the runners reached Front Street, about half-a-mile into the race. At Trimingham Hill roundabout he glanced back and saw Domico Watson as his main challenger.

“I saw him about 100 metres behind,” he said. “I knew from his running style that he was probably working hard and he may not catch me. But I also knew that maybe he had plans to go hard later. So I just went for a good margin of safety and held it.”

Watson was an unknown quantity to Mbelenzi, however, on the start line he noticed he was wearing Nike Hyperfly running shoes.

“So I knew this guy knew something about road racing, was likely to be good, and so I had to beware of him,” Mbelenzi said.

Watson is the son of Bermudian Olympian Michael Watson and Donna Raynor, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, and a former track athlete.

Mbelenzi won the 7.2-mile race in 41min 20sec.

In November, he ran 2hr 46min in the New York City Marathon and is now aiming for the Boston Marathon in April.

His brief return to Bermuda through work commitments coincided with the Goslings race, and next weekend’s Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge, where he is looking to run in the PwC Half-Marathon.

He said: “I only started training [again] this month. I’ve trained for two weeks, and I needed to come down for work.

“I needed to do a few speed sessions for a short race like this one. I knew I wasn’t in the best shape, but I could keep a sub-six minute mile pace.

“I could not beat last year’s time, where I did 40:13, but I’m happy. I have never won this race. I was second last year. It’s a big race, so this ticks one more box.”

Watson was second in 42:51, followed by Tom Mills in 43:51.

Women’s champion Breary, 49, ran the first 2½-mile leg for the relay team Queen of the Streets, before continuing to complete race and win the title in 49:52.

The relay team also featured Christine Dailey and Victoria Fiddick, and were runners-up in the all-female division, behind the team VT Ladies #youvebeenchicked, which was made up of Rose-Anna Hoey, Maddie Durkin and Ashley Couper.

As for her individual race, Breary said: “I felt pretty good in the race. There was no pressure because I noticed all the fast girls were doing the relay.

“I was relaxed and I do want to save my legs for the half-marathon next week. I’m also doing the mile.”

Second woman was Catherine Matthews in 51:03, followed by Andrea Luber in 51:23.

In the junior race, first was Jaelyn Grant in 9.23, ahead of Tajai Goater in 9:35, and R Fleming in 9:36. The first girl was Jaeda Grant in 9:59, from Jezhari Talbot in 10:40, and Azari Jones in 11:11.

The 7.2-mile walk was won by Louise Charleson in 1:22:15, from Paul Hayward in 1:22:55, and Howard Williams in 1:24:28. The second woman was Carol Redahan in 1:26:29, ahead of Suranji Rathnayake in 1:26:56. While the third man was Junior Watts in 1:31:39.

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Published Jan 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 8:01 am)

Mbelenzi makes victorious return

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