Milestone as Merriss notches up 40 years
From 1979 onwards Philip ‘Ramsay' Merriss has made a point of visiting Bermuda each January to compete in the weekend races.
He started out with the marathon and competed in that race for five to seven years before switching to the 10K.
On Saturday, he will be out on the course again, enjoying the friendly ambience that has kept him coming back again and again.
“My wife Janet and I love Bermuda and visit several times a year and always for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend in January. We have had dear friends on your island for well over 40 years. We are especially close to Donald and Deborah Hassell of Somerset, and Simon and Mary Stones of Southampton.”
Merriss, 70, also recalls friendships with some of the island's great runners, including the late Virgil twins, and Peter Lever, who was a key figure in the organisation of the January races for many years.
He said: “My wife and I used to have wonderful times at Henry VII [bar and restaurant] when both Neil and Neville Virgil were tending the bar. We used to stay at the bar at Henry's with both of them and Jimmy Keys until closing on many Saturday nights long ago.
“Peter Lever was also a dear friend and fellow runner, along with Harry Patchett and Joe Lopes. I still see Harry at the start of the 10K every year. Joe still gives me a loud shout out on the North Shore Road as I run past his spot.”
At his best, Merriss achieved a 2hr 33min time for the marathon in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1981. He believes his fastest on the Bermuda course was a 2:42 in the early 1980s, back in the days when the race finished at the old stadium.
When asked why he keeps coming back to the island and the January races, Merriss said: “Janet and I love Bermuda, its people and its beauty.”
That appreciation for Bermuda is also shared by their son Ian, who they brought to the 1983 race weekend when he was three months old. He has since made repeated visits on his own and accompanying his parents.