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Mbelenzi shows mettle in challenging conditions

Hot running: Dennis Mbelenzi, left, and Teddy Shum were first and second in the Axa Man on the Run 5K (Photograph by Scott Neil)

With the temperature at 76F and humidity above 80 per cent, runners in the Axa Man on the Run 5K experienced unusually tough conditions for a November race.

The hilly course added to the challenge of the men-only event, which saw 176 finishers in the main race, and many more in the 5K walk and junior 2K race today.

Eventual winner Dennis Mbelenzi was initially content to tag behind a group of early leaders, before getting involved with the pace and turning it up a notch.

“I looked at the winning times for the previous three years and they were all around 17 minutes, with only one under 17, that was [Chris] Estwanik,” he said.

“I though maybe I could break 17, and I gave it a go. But after one kilometre I knew it wasn’t going to be possible. It was a tough course, and humid. The humidity was uncomfortable.”

By the second kilometre, Mbelenzi was pulling away from the others.

“There were quite a few hills. I attacked the downhills, that’s what you have to do,” he said.

The 37-year-old has notched up a number of local road race victories this year and that has increased his familiarity among spectators, with many now calling out his name to encourage him. He said he appreciated the support.

At one of the final corners on the course he took a sideways glance and saw that he had a lead of about 30 metres on Teddy Shum.

Mbelenzi won in 17min 21sec, his second victory in seven days having lifted the title at the David Saul Memorial — Fidelity 5K the previous weekend.

Shum, 33, who was second at the David Saul event, took the runner-up spot again. His finishing time was 17:50.

He said: “It was hotter than I expected. I was trying to follow Dennis. Every race I do, my tactic is to keep with him. I managed it until we turned off Middle Road, then I just tried to keep him in sight.”

Fast-improving Saltus Grammar School student Tommy Marshall, 14, was third in 18:11.

Among the teams taking part was the Bermuda Police Service, and their representatives included a fully-kitted out group of six officers who carried a ladder the entire 3.1 miles.

In a junior 2.2K race for the 7-10 age division, first was Masaki Kitade in 9:36, followed by Feidhim Carr in 9:51, and Maximillian Kimberley in 10:14.

The 5K competitive walk was won by Howard Williams in 3:12, followed by Joseph Matthew in 36:26, and L.Shinah Simmons in 36:48.

Age division winners in the 5K race were: Iziah Tucker (15-19) in 19:23; David Souter (masters) 22:04; Neil De Ste Croix (senior masters) 18:19; Mark Albouy (60-69) 24:48; Michael Whalley (70-79) 29:34.