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Heat forces half-marathon rethink

The organisers of the Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby are considering bringing forward the start of the annual race after last week's humid conditions sent several competitors to hospital.

Many found the heat unbearable, with some runners failing to complete the trek from Somerset to Bernard Park.

Now the race committee is looking into the possibility of starting the race early to avoid having the slower runners finishing in the midday heat.

Even the juniors who ran the two-mile race from Front Street to Bernard Park looked to be struggling as they came through Cedar Avenue.

One thing that could have contributed to the excessive humid conditions last Wednesday seemed to be the heavy rain that fell in the days before the race. Puddles at Bernard Park proved to be a blessing as some runners soaked in them to cool off.

However, a change in time will not be made without discussions with the Bermuda Bicycle Association who hold their popular Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race on the same day.

“We've been thinking about it for a while, it's just taking the steps to work with all the stakeholders and get everyone involved in the discussions about how much earlier,” said Dr Gina Tucker, president of the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby committee.

“We're considering it for so many reasons, especially the health and safety of the participants. The weather is not like it used to be.

“We will speak with them [BBA] and they will have to adjust to us, all of the times will have to move according to the adjustments.

“Of course, we have not had the conversation with them as yet but it is about having a conversation with all the parties involved, especially the police.”

An alteration to the 107-year-old race was made just a year ago when it was decided to reintroduce a start in the East End after almost 30 years.

Now, the race will come out of the East in alternate years, starting again in St George's next year, taking the runners over a course many feel is more challenging than Somerset to Bernard Park.

The cyclists start at 8.50am, individual runners at 9am, with relay runners starting ten minutes later.

Lamont Marshall, a first-time men's winners, and Ashley Estwanik, who clinched her sixth women's title, both toiled in the heat as dozens more were either taken to hospital or simply abandoned the race.

Jennifer Alen, a top contender in the past, was one who pulled out early because of the conditions. Estwanik ran sensibly to retain her title.

“I felt like I was overheating right from the beginning, so it was more about finishing this year than a good time,” Estwanik said.

“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.”

Trey Simons, who finished second to Marshall, admitted it was tough along the course. “I've only been back for about a week and Atlanta was hot, but not as humid as this,” the college student said.

Larry Marshall, a 2007 winner, echoed those sentiments: “It was hard, I really struggled but I wanted to finish,” he said.

“For me it was brutal, extremely hot out there and I thought I had a much faster time under my belt but from the warm-up in Somerset I just felt flat.”

Dr Tucker added: “It was a brutal morning of heat and humidity. The combination was definitely not one to take lightly and even the best of runners, who were highly trained, could feel the pressure.

“We're going to begin the conversation and as soon as it can happen it will. It's a matter of continuing the conversation because we have raised it in previous years.

“Now we just have to determine how we can make it happen. The safety of the participants is our priority.”

Toiling in the heat: Larry Marshall, a former winner, and Ashley Estwanik, the women's champion, are cheered on by the crowd in the tough conditions on May 24. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published June 01, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 01, 2016 at 7:44 am)

Heat forces half-marathon rethink

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