Casey clinches Elite Men’s crown
Patrick Casey lived up to his pre-race favourite tag, overcoming a strong field to be crowned the Butterfield Front Street Mile Elite Men’s champion last night.
Expectations were high on the United States runner, who was tipped to break the four-minute mile barrier, having arrived on island on the back of a recent 3min 55sec performance.
While the blustery conditions were not conducive with achieving that milestone time, Casey handled the pressure masterfully, heading up the leading pack from the start before kicking on in the home straight to cross the line in a winning time of 4:14.32.
Local hero Dage Minors, who became the first Bermudian to win the elite title in 2018, delighted the crowds by pipping Harun Abda, of the US, to the line in an exciting sprint finish to claim second in 4:15.57, with Casey’s compatriot clocking 4:15.60.
“I came in wanting to break the four-minute mark, but the weather didn’t really co-operate, so I was pleased to come out and win the race,” Casey said.
“Harun is my good friend and I thought we were going to seal the one-two, but Dage just came out of nowhere and I’m really pleased for him, too.
“The conditions made it incredibly tough. I couldn’t really find the rhythm that I would have liked, but I enjoyed the challenge.
“I tried to build into the race and once I made the turn I tried to wind it up from there. I was pleased that I had more to give.
“This is my first race of the new year and all things considered I executed my plan as well as I could.
“It’s amazing to have the crowd along the course cheering the whole time; it made the run a lot easier.”
Despite failing to emulate an historic feat from 2018, Minors was pleased to have achieved a sense of vindication after questions were raised over the strength of his competition in his triumph.
“It was a very talented field and I’m just pleased with my overall performance,” said Minors, who had no answer for Casey.
“People questioned my victory in 2018 because the field wasn’t its strongest, but I run a race to win and won. Tonight was a better field and I proved I could hang in and compete.
“I didn’t feel I had anything to prove, but it’s good to show some people that I’m capable against a strong field.
“I think Patrick could feel he was the better runner among the field and everyone tried to match him.
“After the turn he made his move and we all knew it was time to go.
“Having that local support is why I run these events. It’s important to be a good role model to the community because I have kids coming up to me wishing me luck.
“That’s what I do it for, those little kids, and hopefully we can have more local runners in the elite race in the future.
“Kids look up to people they can relate to and having seen me run from primary school right through to now, for them they can see they can do it too.
“My dad mentioned to me before the race about when I was a child dreaming of being in the elite race, and now I’m here, those things are important to cherish.”
Meanwhile, the adult local male race provided the standout moment of the night, delivering the most thrilling finale as Kwame Curling pipped Alex Pilgrim on the line to win by just on hundredth of a second.
The two came down the straight side-by-side with Curling just doing enough at the crucial moment to break the tape in 5:06.44. Tom Mills took third spot to complete the podium in 5:11.90.
“I genuinely had no idea who had won it, I just tried to keep going and see what happens,” Curling said.
“I didn’t think I had it because it was so close, but luckily I just got across the line.”
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