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Bermuda’s second oldest race reaches milestone

The second longest established road race in Bermuda reaches a landmark moment this Sunday in what is believed to be the 40th occasion it has gone under starters’ orders.

The Bermuda Track and Field Association Half-Marathon was first held in March 1972, making it a number of years older than any other Island road race except the 102-year-old May 24 Bermuda Day Half-Marathon.

When competitors stream away from the start line on South Road, near the Botanical Gardens, on Sunday morning, they will be keeping alive a piece of Island history that started on a rainy day 39 years ago.

German holidaymaker Gerd Mielke was the winner of the inaugural race, beating a field of less than 20 runners in a time of one hour 26 minutes and 23 seconds.

A year later Gary Wilkinson became the first Islander to win the race, eclipsing Mielke’s time by an impressive 11 minutes.

Over the past four decades the event has shifted around the sporting calendar, moving from March to its current November slot, and occasionally being held during other months.

The route of the course has also altered numerous times, as has the event’s name, being variously associated with a long list of sponsors including Elbow Beach, Supermart, –British-American, Island Press/Bermuda Sun and Bermuda Travel.

In recent times the race has been dominated by Kavin Smith, who chalked up 10 victories between 1992 and 2008, and former Island resident Anna Eatherley who won seven consecutive women’s title from 1998 to 2004.

Another past winner is Island great Ray Swan, who was victorious in 1985.

The current route, which takes in South Road, Point Finger Road and Paynters Road, was first run last year. A 10K race was added in 2008 and has proven a popular addition.

Glenn Robinson, director of the Ashlan Clinic-sponsored race, said: “The feedback to the new route was very good. People were excited about it, and having open space at the finish and grass to sit on rather than a hard surface.”

Robinson said he was pleased with how the race has evolved since he became involved five years ago. It is expected that up to 120 competitors will take part in the races.

Entries can be made online at www.racedayworld.com until 5pm on Friday. Late registration will be available at the number pick-up at Ashlan Clinic on Saturday between 12 noon and 2pm. Ashlan Clinic is now located on the 2nd floor of the Cedarpark Centre, at 48 Cedar Avenue.

Both the half-marathon and 10K races will start at 8am on Sunday from the Tucker’s property on South Road, opposite the Botanical Gardens.

The BTFA Half-Marathon, first held in 1972, will take place this Sunday. Above is the combined half-marathon and 10K start from 2009, while (below) Kavin Smith has won the event 10 times.

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Published November 24, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 24, 2011 at 8:09 am)

Bermuda’s second oldest race reaches milestone

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