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I had to complete the mission, says Wong

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Remarkable: Ronnie Wong after finishing his 40-mile run on Sunday. He completed the Bermuda Marathon and continued for an extra lap of the 13.1-mile course, helping to raise funds for St John Ambulance

A handwritten sign on the Bermuda Marathon route read “Run Ronnie Run!” and that is exactly what Ronnie Wong did — and then some.

He completed Sunday’s marathon but he did not stop at the finish line. Wong was on a mission to run an extra third lap of the 13.1-mile route to bring his total for the day to 40 miles.

It was a fitting target, as the Bermuda Marathon Weekend marked its 40th year, but there was a greater purpose to the marathon-plus effort. The 68-year-old former resident wanted to show his love for the Island, and at the same time raise funds for St John Ambulance.

He achieved both goals, and had a smile on his face at the end of his epic six hours and 22 minutes of running.

Wong even managed to fulfil his desire to catch a few marathon runners who had yet to finish their two laps as he completed his third circuit.

After clocking 3hr 53min 56sec for his marathon, which he ran as part of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, he kept running for what was expected to be a lonely third loop of the course. However, he was kept company by Island runner and friend Geoff Blee for the final eight miles.

When asked what it was like running the extra miles, Wong said:

“The traffic was a bit dangerous, but I had to do it for St John Ambulance. I had to complete the mission.

“On the last lap I had to stop to use the bathrooms, and I also stopped for some people who wanted to have a picture with me.”

Wong was a chef at the former Castle Harbour Hotel in the late Seventies. He now lives in the United States, but for more than 30 years he has returned to the Island to compete in the Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

When visiting he stays with long-time friend Joe Lopes. Lopes and his brothers, David, Manuel and Gilbert, were well-known Island runners in the Seventies and Eighties. Manuel still competes in road races.

It has become a tradition for Wong to prepare food for a post-race weekend get together of running friends at Lopes’s home. On Monday evening Geoff Smith, the two-times Boston Marathon winner and Bermuda International 10K record holder, was a special guest.

Also there was another of Wong’s running friends, taxi driver Lee Tucker. It was Tucker who encouraged Wong to mark Bermuda Marathon Weekend’s 40 years by raising funds for the St John Ambulance, which each week attends sporting events to provide medical assistance if required.

It is not yet known how much funding Wong’s efforts have raised for the volunteer service, however Tucker said an announcement will be made in the near future.

“I’m sure St John Ambulance will appreciate all that has been given,” he added.

“Bermuda is very proud of the efforts that Ronnie has put in. A lot of people have trouble driving 40 miles, never mind running 40 miles.

“He has done this for Bermuda, even though he is not a Bermudian. Ronnie is like an Eveready battery.”

When Wong arrived last week for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend he was greeted at the airport by a St John Ambulance with its lights illuminated in his honour and its crew cheering him. He wore a St John Ambulance vest as he ran his 40 miles on Sunday.

Anyone who would like to support Wong and his efforts to help St John Ambulance can do so by making a donation either through credit card, cheque or direct debit or bank transfer.

Donations can be made at the St John Ambulance’s headquarters, at 21 Point Finger Road, Paget, or by calling 236-7831 or e-mailing: media@sjabermuda.org

It is requested that donations should quote either ‘race weekend’ or ‘Ronnie Wong’.

This year’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend attracted a total of 1,145 registered entrants, with 640 competitors coming from overseas.

Running brothers and guests: Front row, from left are Bermuda 10K all-comers record holder Geoff Smith, Ronnie Wong and Joe Lopes. Back row, from left are Gilbert, Manuel and David Lopes