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Smith recovers from wrong turn to win

Despite taking a wrong turn, Chayce Smith came within seconds of breaking the Butterfield & Vallis 5K course record yesterday.

In the women’s race Ashley Estwanik dominated, but was pursued by defending champion Jennifer Alen, who was rewarded for her effort with a personal best.

And further down the field backward running Mia Pauwels came home almost a minute quicker than she had anticipated.

It was mile specialist Smith who took top honours with an impressive display of front running. He had underlined his top form heading into the race by lowering his personal best for the mile to four minutes 13 seconds.

Last month Smith became the first Bermuda runner to achieve a podium finish in the KPMG Invitational Front Street Mile elite men’s race. The time he ran that evening was eclipsed last week by a seven second improvement. In that sort of form Smith was unlikely to be challenged in the 5K race, however last year’s champion Stephen Allen had no intention of relinquishing his title without a fight.

Allen pursued Smith with determination, which meant he was near enough to call out and alert his rival when he saw him take a wrong turn at Berkeley Hill. Smith recovered from his misstep and pushed on.

“Stephen helped me a lot. I was going the wrong way and he called out. I was running about five seconds off the mile pace I wanted to run. I saw Stephen was still right behind me at two miles.”

A stiff wind along North Shore Road provided an additional challenge, but Smith was strong enough to open up a winning margin of 11 seconds over Allen, coming home in 15.38 to miss Chris Estwanik’s 2008 course best by only three seconds.

Smith is heading to Boston this weekend with the intention of lowering his mile time to 4.08.

Second-placed Allen was delighted with his performance, claiming a new lifetime best of 15.49. He said: “I was trying to stay with Chayce. At one point he missed a turn. He was about five metres ahead, so I called out to him. I tried to stay as close as I could.”

Third home was master category winner Gary Raynor in 16.24.

The women’s race saw Ashley Estwanik take an early lead and maintain her advantage for a comfortable win in 18.13. However, she did not finish there and continued running to chalk up a much longer distance as part of her marathon training schedule.

Runner-up Jennifer Alen, who won last year, was pleased to break 19 minutes for the first time, finishing 15th place overall in 18.59.

She said: “I was running at my own pace. When I saw the time on the clock near the end I thought I could do it [break 19 minutes].”

Third-placed Victoria Fiddick ran 19.26. She said: “I was up there. I had them [Estwanik and Alen] in my sights. I’m about a minute off my personal best but I’m happy with where I am at the moment. It felt good today.”

Another notable performance came from Eddie Fisher, first over-60 male, who broke 20 minutes as he clocked 19.59.

Although not among the leaders, Mia Pauwels was one of the 700 competitors who caught the eye of spectators as she ran backwards for the entire course. Aided by friend Clare Nichols, who ran beside her to act as her guide, Pauwels had anticipated completing the race in 40 minutes. She was almost a minute quicker, despite taking a tumble.

Pauwels has been running backwards after discovering it aided her recovery from workouts, but she knew running a full 5K backwards would push her to the limit.

During the race she accidentally clipped the heel of another runner who had suddenly slowed down ahead of her, resulting in Pauwels falling. However, that was the only minor blip in an otherwise successful race.

She was glad to have her running companion act as her ‘brake’ when she started to go too quickly downhills.

“Towards the end my muscles were getting tired. It was enjoyable but you really are running on alert the whole way,” she said.

Running across a blue mat a short distance from the finish line, Pauwels for a moment thought she was at the end.

“My brain registered I was on the blue mat and my legs went to jelly. Even when I got to the finish and turned around to walk forward it took my brain a while to get used to it.”

Although she feels running backwards for 5K is perhaps too far, she hopes interest in backward running might result in a backward running race of perhaps a mile being organised in Bermuda at some point.

In the junior 2.7K race held before the adults’ race, Sajon Harvey (Warwick) and Tilda Norman (BHS) were primary school boys’ and girl’s respective winners in 9.58 and 12.06.

In the middle school category David Darrell (Warwick) and Lynsey Palmer (Saltus) were winners in 9.15 and 10.40 respectively, while the high school division winners, running the full 5K distance, were David Oatley (Saltus) and Gabriela Arnold (Warwick) in 18.04 and 22.34 respectively.

The 5K race walk was won by Caleb Jn-Pierre in 32.50, with Davina Dickenson first woman in 33.16.

5K road race age category winners: (18-29) Jennifer Alen 18.59, (30-39) Ashley Estwanik 18.13, (40-49) Victoria Fiddick 19.26, (50-59) Zina Jones 23.59, (60+) Dawna Ferguson 27.24.

Women:

Men: (18-29) Chayce Smith 15.38, (30-29) Stephen Allen 15.49, (40-49) Gary Raynor 16.24, (50-59) Kent Richardson 19.14, (60+) Eddie Fisher 19.59.

Chayce Smith

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Published February 06, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 06, 2012 at 8:53 am)

Smith recovers from wrong turn to win

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