Kigotho outruns the ‘bulls' to win 5K
Ten of the Island's most well-known elite runners faced a Herculean task when they were held back at the start line of the Validus Re Running of the Bulls 5K and could only watch as the rest of the competitors raced away into the distance.
Dressed as bulls they stood around as the timing clock ticked away. Five minutes after the race had started, the 'lady bulls', namely Jennifer Alen, Victoria Fiddick, Joanna Shillington, Ashley Estwanik and Kristyn Robinson, were sent on their way in pursuit of the main race field.
The 'male bulls' were Chris Estwanik, Jay Donawa, Stephen Allen, Chayce Smith and Sean Trott. They had a further three minutes to wait before being unleashed.
Inspired by the annual festival held in Pamplona, Spain where real bulls chase people through the streets, the race saw a good sized race field.
There was a stiff westerly breeze to content with, but plenty of good times were posted by competitors, including overall winner Gideon Kigotho who set a personal best.
He was out on his own for most of the race, before coming under pressure from runner-up, Olympian Tucker Murphy, in the final mile as they ran past the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Kigotho said: “He almost caught me there and I just pushed more. I had nothing to save myself for so I just went flat out. Today was my best time.”
He finished in a time of 17 minutes 23 seconds, with Murphy a close second in 17.39, followed by Jamie Fraser in 17.55.
The women's race saw training partners Rose-Anna Hoey, Laura Wright and Hilda Stoney secure first, second and third place respectively with personal bests all around.
Hoey managed to secure a 50-second winning margin in 19.29. Wright doggedly pursued and kept her buddy in sight most of the way, crossing the line in 20.18, with Stoney next woman home in 20.59. The trio said they thought the concept of the race was great. They train with May 24 women's champion Deon Breary are preparing for the New York half marathon in a few weeks' time.
Arriving home with the middle of the pack runners were the costume-clad bulls.
Chris Estwanik, who works for race sponsors Validus Re, wore an inflatable bull costume and cowboy hat. Afterwards he said: “We went out aiming for 5.30 or 5.40 minute miles but ended up going a bit quicker. The goal was for us to finish at the same time as the bulk of the runners. We did get a few strange looks from people, especially at the start when we were running on our own.”
Making things extra hard for himself, Jay Donawa wore a head-to-toe bull outfit. But in the cooler, windier conditions, the extra padding at least kept him warm. It was the first time the former World Cross County Championship athlete had worn a fancy dress costume in a race.
Donawa was a late addition to the bulls' team, after he was able to tailor his work commitments to allow his participation.
“It was nice running around and catching people up. It is a great concept and I think it will continue to grow as an event. We might have a few other ideas to try out next year,” he said.
Lady bull Jennifer Alen also thought it had been a great idea. She said the lady bulls had run together and came home in about 20 minutes.
“We started to catch people up when we got to Cedar Avenue. We tried to stay ahead of the guys but they caught us on Woodbourne Avenue,” she said.
In the 5K walk, held in conjunction with the running race, Caleb Jn Pierre led the way in 32.35, ahead of Sinclair Smith 32.51 and Andrea Boileyin 33.15.
There were 261 runners and 20 walkers in yesterday's inaugural Running of the Bulls event, which raised money for the youth mentoring programme Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda.