Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Only a heartbeat away from a $10,000 payday

First Prev 1 2 Next Last

Have you ever run for a bus and missed it by a couple of seconds?

Then spare a thought for Leonard Mucheru who missed out on a $10,000 payday by 2.7 seconds when he won the Elite Invitational Front Street Mile in 2002. The Kenyan smashed the course record in 4.02.6 but was just outside the magic four-minute mile barrier which carried with it the hefty prize money bonus.

This Friday the showpiece event celebrates its 25th anniversary. Over the past quarter century no one has come closer to dipping under four minutes than Mucheru.

In 2002, having run a lifetime mile best of 3.49 the previous year, Mucheru, then 23, appeared to have all the credentials needed to run a sub-4 time along Front Street. But with two tight turnaround points — one at the Birdcage and one at the Longtail statue — and with no rivals near enough to spur him to a faster time (Mucheru won by 10 seconds), it was not to be.

The Kenyan led from start to finish. Afterwards he said: "I thought maybe the competition would be a bit more stiff so that I could go after the sub-four, but it didn't happen."

The most famous athlete to win the Front Street race is Britain's Steve Cram, who was the mile world record holder when he showed up in 1991 to challenge for the $10,000 jackpot. To help give the elite runners a chance at breaking four minutes, top Bermuda middle-distance runner Steve Burgess acted as a pacemaker in the early stages. Cram went on to win the race in 4.04.6, setting a then-record.

Afterwards he said: "If you are going to have a chance to go for the four-minute mark then you have to forget about the competition, go with the pacemaker and really kick down the final stretch. I think it's possible to do it, but I was just concentrating on winning."

Back in 1989, nine athletes competed in the inaugural Elite Invitational Front Street Mile, and there was almost a home-grown champion when Bermudian Olympian Mike Watson put in a late challenge in the final 200 metres of the race.

In his first competitive outing since the Seoul Olympics the previous year, Watson thrilled the crowds lining Front Street as he pushed to close the gap on Canadian Dave Lamont, but the visiting athlete's world-class finishing kick proved too much and he secured victory in 4.11.3, with Watson runner-up in 4.14.6.

Afterwards Lamont said he had almost been caught off-guard by Watson. "I couldn't see him [Watson] coming because it was dark and I didn't hear him, but then I got a glimpse of him and said 'oh-oh'," he explained.

It wasn't until 2009 that an elite women's race was introduced. Jamaica's Korene Hinds won the inaugural race.

LEONARD MUCHERU

Course record holder Leonard Mucheru is now a world class marathon runner. He set his fastest time in 2011, running 2.08.53 in the Daegu Marathon in South Korea. He also won silver in the 5,000m at the 2006 Asian Games.

Fastest winner Leonard Mucheru, of Kenya, crosses the finish line in 4.02.6.
England's Steve Cram, wearing bib No.1, was the world mile record holder when he won the 1991 Front Street Mile elite race, but even he could not break the magic four-minute mile on the course.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published January 15, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm)

Only a heartbeat away from a $10,000 payday

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon