Six of the best for Couper
Ashley Couper chalked up her sixth victory in the PartnerRe 5K to finish champion of the 21st edition of the women-only road race yesterday.
Many of the island's top road runners toed the start line, making it hard to predict who would come out on top. Couper, 40, who first won the event in 2002, was making a return appearance after being sidelined from the road running scene for more than a year because of injury.
The former Commonwealth Games athlete has maintained her fitness by cycling and cross-training, and that conditioning allowed her to push the pace, causing the quality field of runners to string out behind her in the warm and humid conditions. She won in 19min 32sec.
“I did not know what to expect,” Couper said. “Some of the younger girls have so much talent. Taylor White took it out fast. When she gets a bit more endurance she's going to be really good.” White, 14, was one of three teenagers to finish in the top 15.
While Couper took control of the race she was aware that others were in close pursuit, but during the race she did not look around to see who was in second place. She thought it might have been Christine Dailey, Deon Breary or Gayle Lindsay, but it was Estienne Coetzee, an infrequent road race competitor, who stayed within striking distance and finished in 19:52.
Afterwards, Couper said she had enjoyed being back out in a road race and mixing with her running friends, adding that she still has “a lot of work to do” in training. She is considering entering the three-race Bermuda Triangle Challenge during the Bermuda Marathon Weekend in January, and beyond that having another crack at the Ötillö swimrun event in Croatia next year.
Runner-up Coetzee enjoys running but rarely competes in races and previously never timed herself. She hails from South Africa and has been working in Bermuda's reinsurance sector for a number of years. She previously competed in the PartnerRe event in 2016, finishing sixth.
The 32-year-old said: “I just want to improve myself and see how fast I can go.” She usually runs every other day and sticks to distances between 5K and 10K.
The battle for third was won by Lindsay, who stayed three seconds clear of Dailey to cross the line in 20:12.
She has resumed training after a vacation in Kenya, where she climbed Africa's second-highest peak, Mount Kenya. She said: “Ashley was fast, and Christine was strong. I did not have any expectations, but it was a good race.”
Dailey collected the 30-39 age division award. In fifth place was Jessie Marshall, 16, in 21:00, who won the 15-29 age division and finished ahead of previous overall champions Breary, masters' division winner, and first senior master Victoria Fiddick. Almost 300 runners competed in the race, which started and finished in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. There were a further 700 participants in the 5K competitive walk, 5K non-competitive walk and 2K race for juniors.
The walk was won by Sharon Suess in 36:29, followed by Tori Powell in 36:36, and Gilda Cann in 37:19. In the junior race, Jaeda Grant was first in the 7-10 age division in a time of 6:46, followed by Karis Brooks in 7:59 and Amaris Munya in 8:00.
Meanwhile, in the 11-14 division, Myeisha Sharrieff was first in 6:42, followed by Zoe Hasselkuss in 7:03 and Jasmin Hasselkuss in 7:09.
In the adult 5K, other age division winners were Maria Duffy (over-60) in 25:41, Peggy Couper (over-70) in 31:33.