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All smiles as Estwanik sets course record

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Ashley Estwanik exorcised her Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon Derby demons in emphatic style after storming to a comfortable victory in today's women's race and shattering her previous course record.

Estwanik put her May 24 heartbreak of last year — when she finished a disappointing second — firmly behind her with a scintillating performance, posting a time of 1hr 21min 24sec.

She admitted that her feelings ranged between unbridled joy and relief after crossing the finish line in Bernard Park to claim her fourth May 24 title.

“It was a thousand times better than last year when I felt so bad right from the beginning, whereas today I just felt awesome,” Estwanik said.

“I was nervous for a few weeks before the race, but in a way they were good nerves because if you don't have nerves you don't care.

Obviously I had a few self- doubts as well and I had to let my brain override that and try and be confident in my ability.

“As the women competitors go, I never saw anyone else but it was nice to have some guys to run with for a while and finish in the top ten [overall].”

Estwanik said that the warmth of support she received from the thousands of spectators who lined the streets yesterday was even greater than 12 months ago when their words of encouragement were tinged with sympathy.

“I've never felt so much support than today. I don't know whether that was because last year was so bad or maybe I was just looking for it,” said Estwanik, the wife of five-times winner Chris Estwanik, who missed the race for the second successive year because of injury.

“Crow Lane was just ‘wow' and I had the biggest smile on my face. I had to say ‘OK Ashley, don't get too excited just let them carry you.'

“Front Street was also amazing and I was probably running way too fast down there. While on Queen Street I was like ‘Oh my God, I've still got about a half a mile to do!'”

Nikki Butterfield, Estwanik's cousin-in-law, who is married to race winner Tyler Butterfield, capped her maiden May 24 debut with a second-place finish in a time of 1hr 28min 53sec.

Butterfield, a former ITU Under-23 world champion, said that she had relished finally experiencing an event that her husband had trumpeted since the couple first starting dating 12 years ago.

“The crowd is amazing. They make you feel like you're competing in a world championship,” said the Australian, who gave birth to the couple's second child, Walker, in January. “It's amazing that Bermuda can put on such a race and Tyler has been telling me about it for 12 years now.

“Everyone tells you about the atmosphere but until you experience it you can't really understand it. I was getting goose bumps during the first mile and I told myself, ‘OK Nikki, slow down, you don't need to leave your race on the road just because the crowd's yelling.'”

As a non-resident, there had been doubts surrounding the eligibility of Butterfield, who only trained for about two weeks before for the race, however those concerns were resolved in the days leading up to the event.

“I was thankful that I was able to start and that I had a good day. It was a lot of fun,” Butterfield said. “I had two weeks when I was able to get some quality training in. Obviously two weeks isn't much but I've been racing professionally since I was 17, so I was confident that I would have enough.

“I would love to do this race every year if I'm allowed. I'd be really happy if I was able to do that.”

Third-place Rose-Anna Hoey said that she was even more proud of her performance yesterday than last year when she claimed a maiden victory, having undergone surgery after giving birth to a son nearly three months ago.

“I'm absolutely astonished to be honest,” said Hoey, who finished in a time of 1hr 31min 16sec. I'm even more proud of this race than last year's. It was so hard and I pushed myself really hard from the start, probably too hard.

“I really struggled the last few miles when I had to really dig deep. To be honest, I was hurting from my toes to my ears!”

Ashley Estwanik's run through Hamilton was more rewarding than a year ago (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Thumbs up: Estwanik soaks up the atmosphere on Crow Lane as she closes in on her fourth title

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Published May 26, 2014 at 12:21 pm (Updated May 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm)

All smiles as Estwanik sets course record

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