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Estwanik on verge of Derby greatness

Chasing history: victory on Monday would make Estwanik only the fifth runner to have won the race six times

Chris Estwanik will resume an assault on the Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon Derby record books following a two year break.

The husband of women’s champion Ashley has missed the previous two Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon Derbies through injury, but is returning this year and on present form will enter Monday’s race as the overwhelming favourite.

Victory would make him only the fifth runner behind Stanley Burgess, Arthur “Goo Gip” Lambert, Ed Sherlock and Kavin Smith to win at least six titles.

“Obviously the six wins would be amazing and it’s great company to be a part of,” Estwanik said. “The accolades that come with any success are nice to have, but it’s certainly not why I do it. I enjoy the challenge and motivating others and just challenging my body.”

Estwanik will approach the race as he would any other.

“Whether I’m predicted to be the favourite or at the back of the pack I approach each race the same — and that’s to just go out and put forth as great an effort as I can on the day. You can never control what anybody else does on the day, so you have to run your own race and do the best you can, and that’s what I intend to do again.”

Victory on Monday would also see the 35-year old distance runner hold the records for both Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon racecourses. The former United States track star set the record of 1hr 8min 25sec for the course from Somerset to Bernard Park in 2008, en route to a maiden title.

Estwanik admits this year’s field will have their work cut out on the new course, that will see the race start in the East End for the first time in decades.

“I think the hills are going to be difficult for all of the athletes to tackle,” he said. “But by the same token we’ve all had the ability to train on them, and there’s not really going to be surprises for people, so, hopefully, all the participants are as prepared as they can be.

“Obviously the wind is going to be a big player whether it’s helping or hurting, but all of that stuff is out of your control anyway. Everybody has to endure those elements so it’s wasted energy to worry about those things.”

The father of two sent out an ominous warning at last weekend’s Rite Aide Cleveland Marathon in his native Ohio where he earned the bronze medal after crossing the line in 2hr 21 min 32 sec in trying conditions.

“I feel good and obviously been putting in a lot of work to get back to health,” he said.

“I’m really just excited and looking forward to enjoying the experience on Monday.”

Estwanik admits missing the previous two races through injury has been a bitter pill to swallow.

“It’s obviously been one of my favourite days of the year, so I’ve been sad to miss the last two years, and excited that the body has cooperated this time around to be back out on the starting line,” he said. “Everybody is running in great form so I’m excited to go out and do the best I can.”