Adverse conditions fail to dampen dashing duo
The remnants of a night of rain and sections of flooded roads were not enough to stop Dennis Mbelenzi and Rose-Anna Hoey from winning the titles in the Friends of Hospice/Hannover Re Half-Marathon.
For Hoey, it was a third victory in the island's second-oldest continuously held road race, which was marking its 47th year.
Mbelenzi secured his first win in the event, improving on his fifth position of last year. In the first four miles, he had Tim Price for company, before opening a gap on South Road ahead of the climb up McGall's Hill.
Torrential rain before the start of the race meant Mbelenzi and many others did not have a chance to do a warm-up.
“I had decided to warm-up as the race went on,” he said. “The conditions were not the best for running, but we knew we had to do it. We went through the first mile in about 6min 10sec.
“With the puddles, you quickly look around and realise there are no pathways, so you just have to hop through it. That's what I did for most of the way.”
The 37-year-old was looking to run 1hr 19min for the distance, and he was on target as he strode down McGall's Hill, 1½ miles from the finish opposite the Botanical Gardens.
He increased the tempo to see if he could duck below 1:19. In training, he regularly practises picking up his pace at the end of a session, even on tired legs.
“I do almost all my training on a treadmill,” he said. This is often half-mile or mile repeats, with an active recovery period in between, where he slows for a couple of minutes before tackling the next rep.
The sessions usually last an hour, and he aims to finish at 4:50-mile pace in order to simulate race day conditions.
“When you do that, it gives you confidence, because probably no one else has done that, and then you should be able to deliver on race day.”
Mbelenzi beat his lifetime best by five minutes as he won in 1:18:12. He is looking to compete in the Bermuda Marathon Weekend, targeting the Front Street Mile local men's race and the half-marathon.
Price finished second, as he did last year, with an improved time of 1:21:56. He was followed by first woman Hoey, who added to the titles she won in 2015 and 2016 as she crossed the finish line in 1:29:07. Noting the strong winds on the outward portion of the 13.1-mile race, she said: “Being my height and stature, sometimes you get blown about a bit.
“I was running with two other guys for a bit, and one of them — Richard Hall — stuck with me. He's over here from Hong Kong. We ran together, a little bit as a train, and we really pulled each other along. When we finished, he told me it was the fastest half-marathon he has run in two years.”
Hoey said she enjoys the race because it has rolling, hilly sections, and also because it is a longer distance.
“I do prefer the longer distance races; I feel more myself,” she said.
Off-road running is another preference, and she plans to compete in next month's National Cross County Championships, which will be held at Clearwater. Hall was third man and fourth overall in 1:29:10, while Martina Olcheski-Bell was second woman, and fifth overall in 1:35:17. Third woman was Sarah Thompson in 1:41:24.
There was also a 10K race, won by Christopher Harris in 37:51, from James Armour in 40:19, and Neil Burt in 41:18. The first three women were Deon Breary in 41:59, Leana Coetsee in 46:03 and Stepanka Sprincova in 46:21.
In the 5K race, Dominique Mayho was first in 18:38, ahead of Will Green in 19:53, and first woman Melissa Logie in 20:33.
Myeisha Sharrieff, 12, was second in the women's race, in 23:07, followed by Christiana Halliday in 24:11. Third man was Jahmai Lottimore in 21:25.
Gilda Cann was first in the 10K walk, in 1:19:40, while Zharia Bean was first in the 5K walk in 42:23.