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Estwanik: I was running scared the whole time

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Cruising to victory: Ashley Estwanik gets the thumbs up from a spectator (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Ashley Estwanik joined husband Chris as a six-times Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby champion after storming to an emphatic victory in the women’s field yesterday.

The 38-year-old mother of two led from wire-to-wire before crossing the Bernard Park finish line eighth overall in a time of 1hr 27min 25sec with no other female runner in sight to comfortably retain her title.

Any thoughts of a close battle for the women’s crown were quashed by the second-mile mark where Estwanik had already established a commanding one minute lead over nearest rival Deon Breary, which she increased throughout the 13.1-mile race that started in Somerset.

The heat was the only real challenge that Estwanik, who averaged just under seven minutes per mile, encountered on a day when slower times were the norm.

“The time wasn’t very pretty, it was really hot and humid today,” Estwanik said. “It was pretty awesome but not easy as I was struggling after three miles.

“I felt like I was overheating right from the beginning, so it was more about finishing this year than a good time. I just really struggled from very early on, but thankfully took a lot of water.

“I took every single bit of water I could get. I was dumping stuff on my head and people were giving me ice, which I really, really needed.”

Jennifer Alen, who has come close to winning the race in the past, pulled out early as she became one of several runners who succumbed to the hot and humid conditions.

Even with a commanding lead Estwanik took nothing for granted as she neared the finish line.

“I didn’t know what was going on behind me and I hate not knowing what’s going on behind,” she said. “I normally would think when I am in town that I have this. But I have learnt never to count on the win.

“Last year, Ashley Berry came up behind me with two miles to go and that really shook me. I had to really push it.

“I didn’t know if anybody was behind this year, so I was running scared the whole time. It’s tough, so you just have to run your own race and do your best.

“The support was amazing. Now I feel like it’s going to be a competition between St George’s and Somerset who can cheer the loudest.”

Taking second in the women’s field was Breary, the 2011 women’s champion, who crossed the line in 1:34:58.

“For this race it wasn’t about getting a decent time, it was about finishing,” the 46-year-old said.

“The conditions weren’t good out there today. The humidity was high, so I am happy with my second-place finish.”

Achieving a first podium was Vivienne Lochhead, who crossed the finish line in 1:37:24, to pip Victoria Fiddick, her trainer and 2009 women’s champion, for third.

“Victoria encouraged me to go for the podium but I was actually going for top five, so to get third was great,” Lochhead said. “It was not my best time, but I don’t care.

“It’s awesome and out of the top four women, three of us are over 40!”

The 50-year-old Fiddick won the senior female division in a record time of 1hr, 39mins and 24secs.

“I was aiming for the record, which I got, so I am happy,” she said. “This is the most fantastic race on the calendar, the crowds are crazy, it’s a challenging race, it’s a fun day and you just have to be there.”

Giving chase: Kristen Palmer (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)