Séamus Fearon and Christine Dailey pick up top prizes in Athora 8K
Séamus Fearon and Christine Dailey battled against humid conditions and terrain to come out on top at the Athora 8K Run/Walk on Sunday.
Fearon, 42, held off strong competition from former cyclist Shannon Lawrence and Adam Prunty, to cross the finish line in 30min 10sec, slower than his winning time of 27:49 in last year’s race.
Lawrence improved on his third place from 2022 to finish in 30:24 and Prunty, a week after winning the Axa XL Man on the Run, crossed the line in 30:45.
This year’s race had a total participation of 164, up from 148 in 2022 for the inaugural event.
“It was a great race,’’ Fearon said.
“It’s a hilly course and it’s pretty humid today, but it was a good race and a good turnout here. Adam Prunty and myself had a bit of a battle for the first four miles, but he ran out of steam at some point and I was on my own for a bit, so I was just trying to take it easy into the finish.
“My time was a bit slower but I did the Berlin Marathon six weeks ago, so I'm just of recovering. I took a good rest and I'm just getting back into it so this is a good race to start the season.
“I'm actually moving to Australia for five months for work and I’ll be doing some racing down there but I’ll be back hopefully for May 24.
“I don't think I can win the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby as I'm not the calibre to win it, but it depends on who shows up for some of these races.”
Lawrence, 46, a former Sinclair Packwoopd Memorial Race winner in 2014 and 2015 ran through the pain of a hamstring injury.
“The conditions weren't too sharp,’’ Lawrence said.
“It was too humid. I put my head down, got on with it, but it’s a nice, challenging course. It was a good race, good to see a lot of people out and I’m thankful for the people that put it together and those that sponsor it.
“I've a hamstring injury so I just hung back, and then just pushed on using momentum. I saw the leading pack in my sight, I caught one of them and was able to come second.”
Prunty, 28, is not slowing down, with plans to compete in the Hannover Re Half Marathon on Sunday, as well as the Triangle Challenge in January.
“I felt quite good for the first few miles,’’ Prunty told The Royal Gazette.
“After that I probably went out a little hard and snapped in just over four miles. Maybe trying to stay with Seamus was a wrong idea, but it was good fun.
“I gave up on catching up with Seamus at Berkeley Hill, he was just too fast.”
Christine Dailey, 36, who entered the same race eight months pregnant last year was the first woman over the line in 32:55. Gayle Lindsay, the Half Marathon Derby women’s champion finished runner-up in a time of 33:43.
“I've been doing a lot of specific training and doing a lot of hard work, so it’s nice to feel fast,’’ Dailey said.
“I did this race last year and I was eight months pregnant, now I have a nine-month-old baby.
“I actually like this course and it’s challenging because the hills are tough, and the extra heat and humidity add a little spice to it. I think that’s great and runners like to be challenged.”
Lindsay, 35, was running for the first time since she won the Half Marathon Derby in May.
“It’s good to be back and I knew it was going to be tough,’’ she said.
“It was probably tougher than I expected but it’s nice to be back and get myself a benchmark to see where my fitness is at. I did have a bit of an injury so I took some time off, and then just got back into it.
“It’s always tough up towards Admiralty House Park, then from the bottom of Spanish Point up again, and then Berkeley, plus the heat and humidity today makes for very tough conditions.”
Naomi McGuinness, aged 10, produced a remarkable run to finish fifteenth overall, and she also walked away with the prize for the female 17 years and under after finishing in a time of 34:37.
Last year’s winner, Paul Hayward, was the first of the competitive walkers home in 59:32. Behind him was Junior Watts in 1:02:31, while Nancy Andrews-Sousa, the only female in the top three, made it back in 1:03:58.
Some of the proceeds from yesterday’s race went to The Coalition for the Protection of Children, who were represented by Kelly Hunt at the prize presentation ceremony.
Athora Reinsurance chief executive officer Amy Ponnampalam spoke of the importance of supporting such initiatives.
“Athora has been active in Bermuda for six years and we've made Bermuda our home, so it’s really important to invest in our community,’’ Ponnampalam said.
“The Coalition is an organisation that we feel does great work with Bermuda’s young people, so we want to do as much as we can to support them.
“When people take part, 50 per cent of the race proceeds go to charity and Athora actually matches that.
“Last year, we ended up making donations to the Coalition for about $13, 000, so we hope this year we can make a sizeable donation.”
“The more people that take part in this event, the more money we raise and that’s really what the point of this is.”
Sharon Craig, the race director, was pleased with the increase in the number of participants.
“The race was really good,’’ she said. “The last number we had was 171 entries and 164 turned up compared with last year which was 148, so we were really pleased.
“It was very humid conditions for everybody, but thankfully there was nobody struggling on the route. They all made it back in and it was a great race.
“Athora are great sponsors, we are really pleased that we can work with The Coalition for the Protection of Children.”