Page waves goodbye to Island road runners
After 14 years in Bermuda one of the most recognisable faces on the road running scene bids farewell to the Island on Friday.
Former Mid Atlantic Athletic Club (MAAC) president Chris Page is relocating to Singapore. He departs 14 years to the day when he started work in Bermuda in 1999.
Among his proudest moments as an Island runner was breaking the five-minute mile barrier in the Front Street Mile at the age of 40.
Reflecting on Bermuda, he said: “It's the most wonderful community. We've had 14 glorious years. My daughter Katie was two when we arrived, and my son Johnny was born here just after we arrived. It has been a fabulous community in which to bring up kids.”
Page, who hails from Yorkshire, England, and his wife Lesley lived in Hong Kong in the late 1990s before an economic downturn led him to follow a suggestion from a Bermuda-based old university friend, Bill Pollett, to apply for a corporate attorney opportunity.
When he arrived on the Island he was already an occasional runner, but admits he was around 20 pounds overweight, to make matters worse he suffered a slipped disc during his first year and, as he underwent treatment, decided he had to get back in shape.
He took Pilates classes with former May 24 Derby winner Jane Christie to strengthen his core muscles and that led to pulling on his running shoes again. “Running in Bermuda felt so natural. I was enjoying it and I started racing,” he said.
“The running community here is very inclusive. You can always find someone to run with. And you can go to the track and meet coach Steve Burgess who is so inspirational and makes everyone feel they have a right to be there.”
Page began competing in races from 5K up to half-marathon. Then he entered his first marathon — New York in 2002. That led to further marathons, including a worrying moment in the Boston Marathon 2004, held in 88F, where he got “cooked” and required medical treatment.
From marathons he progressed to triathlons. He had incorporated cycling and swimming into his training routine. A friend suggested a triathlon and that led to him competing, at 40, in a full Ironman triathlon (2.4 miles swim, 112 miles cycle, 26.1 miles run) in Duluth, Minnesota.
He finished the event in around 13 hours.
That same year he achieved his memorable breakthrough in the Front Street Mile. “I'd been doing that race for five or six years trying to break five minutes. Then, after all those attempts, and at the age of 40, I finally managed it.”
Last year he chalked up another first when he ran his first ultra-distance race, the JFK 50 in Maryland. He completed the 50-mile road race in 10½ hours, raising funds for Warwick Academy at the same time.
For Page, who turns 46 today, running personal records are no longer the driving incentive. “As you get older you can't take the type of training you need to do those times. I've evolved as a runner and I take as much pleasure these days running within myself, enjoying communal runs on Sundays with good friends. It is much more now about mental well-being.”
For a number of years Page was president of MAAC. Having enjoyed the pleasure of competing in many of the races organised by the club, and training at the MAAC track nights, he accepted an invitation to get involved.
He fondly recalls working alongside the likes of April Vesey and Laura Keyes, who were “wonderfully organised and knew what they wanted to achieve”.
“MAAC has been a great way of raising money for charity. Each year it raises upwards of $40,000 for charities,” he said.
As for running in Bermuda, Page said: “It is such an inclusive sport. It does not matter who you are or what you do for a day job. When you go along to the races with your running shoes on everyone is equal, and almost everyone knows everyone else.
“May 24 Derby is like one big street party where everyone knows your name.”
Accepting a new Singapore-based opportunity with Coyners Dill & Pearman, for whom he is a legal counsel, is the reason Page and his family are bidding farewell to Bermuda. He intends to make future return visits to the Island that has been his home for so many years.
“We will definitely come back, even if it is just for holidays. We have a great love for the Island,” he said.