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Hoey returns to winning ways

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On their way: runners stream away at the start of the 12th annual Bacardi 8K Road Race (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Rose-Anna Hoey claimed the women’s title in the Bacardi 8K Road Race, six years after her previous victory in the event.

Meanwhile, Dennis Mbelenzi secured his first overall win in the Bacardi event as it marked its twelfth year.

Two miles into the race, Mbelenzi and Tim Price led the field of more than 200 runners as they tackled the long climb from Spanish Point. Price had edged slightly ahead. However, Mbelenzi moved to the front as they turned on to North Shore Road, and from then on he stretched his lead over his rival.

During the final three miles he checked behind a few times to ensure there was a comfortable gap between himself and Price.

On the final turn, Mbelenzi, 37, accidentally headed up the wrong driveway — before doubling-back and then running up the correct approach ramp to the Bacardi headquarters on Pitts Bay Road. He crossed the finish line with a time of 28min 29sec, which was more than two minutes quicker than a year ago, when he was sixth.

Price reprised his runner-up spot from last year, finishing in 29:02, with first master Christopher Harris third in 29:32.

Among the women, Hoey found herself in a head-to-head battle with Deon Breary. It was only in the final ¼mile that Hoey, 37, managed to pull away. She won in 32:39. It was her second victory in the event, having previously lifted the title in 2012.

Hoey had warmed up for the race by running four miles, and after finishing she added a few more training miles.

It was Hoey’s second road race since she won the Causeway Coast ultra-marathon in Ireland, during September, completing the 40-mile endurance race in 6hr 10min 49sec to finish sixth overall.

“I won the ultra, and the reason was I did so much speed work over the summer,” she said. “I was in excellent shape, but your body breaks down and you have to let it heal again.

“Coming back from the ultra, I took a little bit of a break. My body and my mind needed it.”

Describing the Bacardi race she said: “Deon was right on my, shoulder until the last 400 metres. She is really strong at the moment. We have been training together and I was not expecting to be ahead of her today.”

Looking ahead, Hoey is contemplating competing the Front Street Mile during January’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend, and possibly also the half-marathon.

In the 8K, Breary was second overall and first master in 32:56. While Karen Smith, first senior master, was third in 33:50.

In the age divisions, D. Barbara J. Smith was first over-60 woman in 45:07, while for the men Neil De Ste Croix was first senior master in 29:39, and Neil Halliday won the men’s over-60 title in 36:24.

The 8K walk, held in conjunction with the road race, was won by Sylvester Jean-Pierre in 53:46, ahead of Howard Williams in 54:14 and Joseph Matthew in 57:44. First woman, and fourth overall, was Sharon Suess in 50:08, ahead of Fiona Beck in 60:24 and Sarah Tucker in 61:10.

Race champion: Dennis Mbelenzi wins the Bacardi 8K Road Race in 28 min 29 sec, which was more than two minutes faster than he achieved last year when he was sixth (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
At the double: Rose-Anna Hoey secured her second Bacardi 8K Road Race women’s title. She was also champion in 2012 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)