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Estwanik ends golden week on top

Running away with it: Estwanik eases past Bobby Bristow, from the Shetland Islands, during the 10,000m race.

Chris Estwanik ended his Island Games as he started it, with a gold medal.

Estwanik romped to victory in the 10,000 metres, adding to the gold he won in the half marathon and the silver in the 5,000.

The sixth-time May 24th winner entered the games as a bit of an unknown, representing Bermuda for the first time, but quickly made his presence felt with a victory in the half-marathon over heavy favourite Lee Merrien, who made it no secret he was expecting a victory in the event.

“I had such a fantastic week finally getting the chance to represent Bermuda,” Estwanik said. “The half-marathon victory over arguably the top marathoner in all of the UK was a huge confidence booster to know that my training regimen is working.”

Estwanik finished the 13.1 mile run in just 1hr 7min 16sec, a comfortable 200 metres ahead of Merrien.

The 35-year-old proved it was no fluke by following his performance with two medals on the track: silver in the 5,000m and gold in the 10,000m.

“I was so happy to perform the way I did as those were my first two real track races in almost nine years,” said Estwanik, who finished fourth at the US indoor championships in the 3,000 metres more than a decade ago.

Estwanik did not disappoint in his return to the track, with his time of 30:04.66 in the 10,000m just one second shy of the Island Games record.

“I set out at a solid pace and ran my own race, and I had enough for a fast last lap,” said the father-of-two, who lapped all but one of his competitors in the final race.

Finishing second was Kevin Loundes of Isle of Man, who ended about 250 metres behind Estwanik. Bronze went to his countryman Alan Corlett, a good two minutes behind the leader.

Estwanik exemplified the friendly and sportsmanlike atmosphere of the games, staying at the line and cheering on 15-year-old Patrick Garner of Gibraltar, the last place finisher, who crossed the line more than 12 minutes later.

“That’s what’s great about the Island Games,” Estwanik said. “You get teenagers and 40-somethings and everywhere in between, some may have no experience and others are Olympians and national record holders, but they are all together on the start line ahead of competing.

“This event was such a great opportunity for the Bermuda athletes to challenge themselves against high level competition, make new friends, and see a beautiful country all at the same time,” Estwanik said.

Estwanik will take some time to relax before getting back into training for the Chicago Marathon in October, where he has a shot at a qualifying time for the 2016 Olympics.

The time to beat is 2hrs 17min, which Estwanik showed he was within striking distance with a 2:21:32 finish at the Rite Aide Cleveland Marathon in May.