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Donawa leaves sick bed to claim title

Free and clear: Donawa speeds away from the chasing pack (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jay Donawa defended his XL Catlin Man on the Run 5k road race title with a storming run of 17min 7sec yesterday.

It was Donawa’s first race since finishing the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon Derby, and it almost didn’t happen after he went to hospital three days’ earlier suffering with gallstones.

However, the former Bermuda international athlete felt well enough to run and wanted to support the men-only race he won last year, which raises awareness of men’s health.

In warm conditions, he stormed into the lead along Middle Road and was soon running his own race, with Christopher Hands and Spencer Butterfield battling it out for second place some way behind.

“I did the first mile in 5:16 and when I reached Harbour Road I felt a little winded. Just based on the applause I heard from people watching the race I could tell how far in front I was,” said Donawa, who admitted to feeling the effects of his earlier fast pace when he was into the final half-mile. “When I reached the hill coming up Morgan’s Road I felt like I was running in slow motion.

Donawa now runs for enjoyment rather than to be competitive. “I’m running to keep fit, but I’m not doing any formal training,” he said.

These days, the former World Cross Country Championship athlete gets a lot of enjoyment from watching his children competing at a variety of sports, although he said he appreciates the friendly camaraderie of the road racing scene.

“Maybe I will come out a bit more. I hope to do the Princess’ race (Fairmont to Fairmont) in January.”

Following Donowa over the finish line was Hands, in 17:50. He was involved in duel with Butterfield along Harbour Road. The two were part of a 17-strong contingent representing Butterfield & Vallis in the race. With half-mile left to run, Butterfield made his move in the hope that he could take the sting from Hands’ superior kick finish. But Hands was not to be denied, and matched his colleague along Morgan’s Road before claiming second place with a ten-second gap separating him from Butterfield.

The race, which is now in its third year, raised funds for the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, and also promoted men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer. Among the 185 finishers in the main race was former Premier David Saul, who survived prostate cancer.

Now 76, Dr Saul is in his 62nd year of road racing. “I’m never going to stop,” he said. As a teenager he set a national under-17 record for three miles, one of a string of national marks he achieved. In yesterday’s 5K, which is a fraction over three miles in distance, he ran 31:17, winning the over-70 age division.

“There was low humidity, no breeze and lots of female supporters out there on the course. This race is going to grow exponentially over the coming years,” he said.

Twenty members of the Renegades rugby club took part in the race. Club member Mike Williams said they had raised $3,000 for the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre. The players decided to participate after one of their former team-mates, Alex Donkervoet, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in September.

Donkervoet, 32, was treated within days, and returned to Bermuda to take part in the race with the Renegades. He appreciated the support from the players and the chance to help raise awareness of health issues that can impact men. Showing his appreciation for the club, he said: “These guys are great, and I wanted to give my support.”

In a 2K race for 7-10 year-olds, Jake Brislane was first to finish in 9:59, followed by Joshua Lipschutz in 10:18, and James Cooper in 10:32.

The 5K competitive walk was won by Robert Thomas in 35:14, followed by Sinclair Smith in 36:03, and Joseph Matthew in 36:09.