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Stunning performances have stood test of time

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Two astonishing course records were set on the same day in 1982 when Geoff Smith and Grete Waitz retained their 10K titles in Bermuda.

British runner Smith, who went on the win the Boston Marathon in 1984 and 1985, obliterated the field as he ran 28min 14sec. He is the only winner in the 42-year history of the race to achieve a sub-29 time.

A fraction over three minutes later, Norway's Waitz broke her own course record in 31:41.

Some 38 years later, the records of Waitz and Smith still stand.

The 10K was added to the weekend races in 1978, and was won that first year by Bermuda's Cal Bean. The following year, American Joan Benoit was crowned the first women's winner. She went on to win the Olympic Games' inaugural women's marathon in 1984.

It is Waitz who remains the most successful athlete in the 45-year history of Bermuda's weekend festival or running. She won the women's 10K title in six consecutive years, from 1980 to 1985, and again in 1987 and 1989. No other competitor — man or woman — has won more titles at The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

Waitz was 28 when she ran the course record, which at the time was faster than the official women's 10,000 metres world record.

She also won the New York Marathon nine times between 1978 and 1988, and broke the women's world record for the distance a number of times, ending with a career best of 2hr 24min 54sec.

In addition, Waitz finished second to Benoit in the 1984 Olympic Games marathon. She retired as an international runner in 1991.

Waitz enjoyed coming to Bermuda as part of her winter training, and in 2007 told The Royal Gazette that she loved running on the island and still had fond memories of the weekend races. She was 57 when she died in 2011.

Meanwhile Smith, 66, has returned to Bermuda in recent years for the weekend races, and competed in the Bermuda Triangle Challenge in 2018.

Loved Bermuda: women's running legend Grete Waitz races along the roads of Bermuda during one of her many appearances in the 1980s. She won eight titles, more than any other man or woman at the weekend races. Her 1982 women's 10K course record of 31:41 still stands (File photograph)
Fastest man: Geoff Smith crosses the 10K finish line in a record-breaking 28.14 in 1982. That time has never been bettered in Bermuda (File photograph)

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Published January 16, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 15, 2020 at 6:35 pm)

Stunning performances have stood test of time

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