George, 79, runs his 40th Fairmont
Come rain or shine, George Jones has run up the imposing hill outside the Fairmont Southampton every year since 1978 on his way to completing the annual 7.2-mile race from Hamilton to the hotel’s beach club.
It was very much a case of “come rain” yesterday, but that was no problem for Mr Jones, 79, as he chalked up his milestone 40th year running in the race. He is the only athlete to compete in every edition of the event.
There was rapturous applause for the veteran athlete at the post-race awards ceremony, where he was given a presentation bottle of Gosling’s rum to mark his achievement.
“I just keep on running,” said Mr Jones. “I wanted to make it, to do all 40 of these races.”
The race is now known as the Gosling’s to Fairmont Southampton road race, but was previously the Fairmont to Fairmont, and originally called the Princess to Princess.
As he sat down for a well-earned rest after running for almost 2½ hours, Mr Jones said he has every intention of continuing to run and do the occasional race.
“As long as I’m in good health, I will.”
Spectators and fellow competitors calling out his name and giving him words of encouragement along the race route spurred him on.
He has worked all his life in the hospitality industry and, as a doorman at the Elbow Beach Hotel, continues to welcome guests to the island.
Mr Jones took up running in the 1970s after being inspired by seeing the likes of Ed Sherlock, Calvin “Baldy” Hansey, the Virgil twins and Cal Bean in the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby.
Reflecting on yesterday’s race, he said: “It is still a good race. I’m proud to have done all 40 races. It makes me feel good and it’s something nice to have had the chance to achieve.”
The race was won by Chris Estwanik, with Rose-Anna Hoey the women’s champion. Both runners took time out to congratulate Mr Jones and be photographed with him.