‘There’s nothing quite like it’
This will be the fifth consecutive year that England’s Heather Brain has competed in the Bermuda Marathon Weekend. Here she writes about her race weekend experiences and explains why she enjoys returning to compete every year.2009 — I first visited Bermuda as a once in a lifetime holiday with a friend. We stayed at Salt Kettle Guest House and sometimes before breakfast we jogged along the old railway trail to run on the pink sand at Elbow Beach, then we either walked for miles or explored Bermuda by bus and ferry exchanging greetings with the friendly, smiling local people.
We were lucky to be introduced to [Marathon running legend] Kathrine Switzer who also competed in the races that year.
We watched some of the mile races on Front Street on Friday evening but had to catch the ferry back at 9pm so missed the experience of the elite race. It poured with rain for the 10k the following day, again we just watched.
It was sunshine for the half-marathon though, tough running conditions even in January having come from the cold icy winter of the UK. We had entered for fun if only really to see a different part of this beautiful island. Neither of us took running that seriously but had trained enough to get us round and enjoy the experience. We were rewarded with stunning views over the calm ocean and wonderful coloured hibiscus flowers grew amongst the hedges in the gardens. The sound of the kiskidees filled the air as they darted from branch to branch. Local people seemed to be out in their thousands to cheer the runners. We both learnt that day that Bermuda certainly isn’t flat.
2010 — I ran all three races. At registration I was given three different coloured, good quality T-shirts. I enjoyed the mile race with the runners going off in waves every 10 minutes. I had never experienced anything like it before, running under the dark skies with the course lit up, crowds cheering, lining the street and what organisation. The 10K was quite a late start, about 10am. It was a hot day and I passed out with dehydration on the stadium track at the finish, so I was a bit wary running the half-marathon the next day but knew the course now. I began to recognise the local runners and they acknowledged me. I was amazed the full results were available so soon after the finish and I remember the huge medals we were given and all the food and drink available afterwards.
2011 — I was injured for most of the year so could only manage the mile and the 10K. I met [former World Marathon Champion] Douglas Wakiihuri who ran his first races for 10 years and said he was determined to come back in better shape the following year having been inspired to run competitively again in Bermuda. I vowed the same.
2012 — Met a very fit, slim Douglas Wakiihuri on my flight from London. He went on to do very well in all the races. I completed all three races in the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge and much preferred the earlier start for the 10K. Three races in three days is very tough, especially as I still had not been able to train enough due to the bad weather in the UK. The encouragement on the half-marathon course certainly helped. I remember running past a school, the teacher was looking up the running numbers in the newspaper and the children shouted out our names.
2013 — I hope to run all three races again, but once again the UK weather could be against me. I am looking forward to meeting up with the friends I have made over the years and participating in a very prestigious event. Each year brings with it a different challenge, but I take back so many fond memories that one can only experience on this tiny island. For some runners this is the only time they will visit Bermuda and participate in the races, take everything in, from pastel coloured houses with their white roofs, the sunshine and humidity, the friendly people and the amazing scenery. There’s nothing quite like it.