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Race regular swaps his sneakers for music

Familiar face: spectator favourite Sylvester Jean-Pierre will miss tomorrow's race because he has been focusing on writing a song, which tells youth there's more to life than violence (File photograph)

Music has taken priority over running this year for Sylvester Jean-Pierre, one of the most consistent and recognisable competitors in the Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby during the past two decades.

A former top three finisher, Mr Jean-Pierre last competed in the event two years ago when he won the 50-59 age division. It was his twenty-first appearance in the race.

But this year he has been preoccupied writing a song with Barbados artist Mistah Dale.

The track, Put It Down, which is sung by Mistah Dale, has gained airplay in Bermuda on radio station Irie 98.3, and is aimed at young people — letting them know there is more to life than violence, guns, and drugs.

Mr Jean-Pierre, 58, said the song shared a universal theme and had been well received.

“We need to give youth a chance and have a positive attitude. We can’t give up on the youth,” he said.

Always seen wearing a bandana during the May 24 races, Mr Jean-Pierre regularly attracted plenty of support along the route. But for a second consecutive year he will miss the race. “I won’t be running as I’ve put all my energy into getting the message out with the song Put It Down,” he explained.

Mr Jean-Pierre hails from Barbados, where the song was recorded. However, he has lived in Bermuda most of his life and wrote the song’s lyrics while on the island.

Although he will be missing from the race action tomorrow, he will watch the event and would love to see Jay Donawa, who has finished runner-up on many occasions, win the title.

He also views Chayce Smith, Stephen Allen, Lamont Marshall and teenager Tyler Smith as genuine title contenders.

Put It Down can be heard on Mistah Dale’s YouTube channel.