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Runners flocking to the Island for race weekend

Special guest: Smith, the 10k record holder, will be back on the Island for next month’s race weekend

Numbers are up for next month’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend, race director Anthony Raynor has revealed.

The build-up to the 40th marathon and 39th 10k has been overshadowed, understandably, by the recent announcement that the America’s Cup will be coming to Bermuda in 2017. Even so, interest has been strong among overseas competitors ahead of the January 14 deadline for entries.

Races on the weekend of January 16-18 include the KPMG Front Street Mile, International 10k, marathon and half marathon.

“In the last weekend in November we had the mile trials and numbers of participants in that event was higher than in the last few years,” said Raynor. “For January the registration numbers are a little higher than last year at this time and if the trend continues then we will have an increase.

“All the registration is online and the registration deadline is the 14th of January, but we want people to register before December 31 because the fee goes up on January 1. People can come to the number pickup on January 16 [and register] if we still have space.”

Raynor confirmed that Geoff Smith, the 10k record holder from 1982 will be one of the special guests for the weekend, which caters to hundreds of runners in the various races.

Smith has been back the last two years but his participation has been curtailed by sore hips in 2013, after two hip replacements, and then last year when a sore hamstring prevented him from making an appearance in the 10k.

“He’s planning to run but that will depend as he had an injury he’s trying to recover from,” Raynor said. “We have a group from the Canadian Diabetes Association that’s coming over, who were last here ten years or so ago.

“That’s very pleasing to see and hopefully we can develop that relationship and get them back in 2016. Then there are some smaller groups. What we’re finding is groups of friends who like to travel to different events are preplanning, looking at the dates and the cost of hotel and air fares.

“There is a group of 29 coming from Louisiana and each year they pick somewhere to go, they call themselves the ‘Run Train’. Last year they were in Key West and this time they’re coming to Bermuda.”

It is not yet known if any of the defending champions from January will be coming back, though Jordan Chipangama, who won the HSBC Half Marathon and 10k, smashing the half marathon course record in the process, said at the time “as long as they keep on having these races, I will keep on coming. This is heaven for me.”

Chipangama, like Richard Kessio in the HSBC Bermuda Marathon and Sarah Brown in the women’s 10K, retained his title from the previous year.

“This will be the 40th marathon in Bermuda, starting in 1975, they didn’t have anything in 1976, and then ‘77 until now,” Raynor said. “The 10k started in ‘77, then the mile races and half marathon. The sport of distance running is still growing and people are still finding out about what is out there.”

Raynor said seeing the increase in business for taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants was one of the positives about putting on the races during the slow tourism season. “One of the rewards is the benefits to other people,” he said. “We’ll do our part.”