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Cartmell hails ‘phenomenal’ crowd

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Magnificent support: Greg Cartmell, from Waterloo, Ontario, was crowned the marathon champion in a time of 2:52:12(Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Greg Cartmell likened the Bermuda Marathon Weekend experience to the prestigious Boston Marathon after crowning his first competitive appearance on island by breaking the tape to take the overall honours yesterday.

Cartmell, from Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, prevailed in the windy and challenging course conditions to cross the line in 2hrs 52min 12sec, ahead of David Langen in 3:05:22 and Alex Egan (3:12:18) who took second and third, respectively.

Having targeted finishing in a time of 2:35 ahead of the race, Cartmell conceded he struggled with the surprisingly inclined course, but hailed the “phenomenal” support from the community which inspired him along the route and carried him to the finish line for a memorable win.

“The crowd are just phenomenal, not just at the finish line but around the course as well,” said Cartmell, who ran the first half of the marathon in a time of 1:20:39. “To me the level of community participation is almost on par with the Boston Marathon. People are out cheering, everyone is out and celebrating; it was magnificent.

“It wasn’t anywhere near my best time of 2:43, but it was still a positive time. I think the whole country must have been out at the event; if they weren’t competing they must have been on the sides cheering.

“The track was really challenging, particularly with the hills. The heat and wind picked up on the second half and that made it more difficult but overall it was such a beautiful day to run.

“I was hoping to run closer to 2:35, I wasn’t too far off but had I matched my first-half pace I would have been near enough bang on but the wind and heat just picked up. This is my first trip to Bermuda and it has been truly memorable. Everyone has been so amazing and I’m so thankful for that.”

Meanwhile, in the women’s category, Stephanie Hodge continued her longstanding affinity with Bermuda by crossing the line as the first female finisher in 3:31:02. Newfoundland-native Hodge, who first competed in the event back in 1994, and tasted victory in 2010, turned back the clock to finish comfortably ahead of her nearest rivals Leana Coetsee (3:53:07) and Cindy Lewandowski (3:54:48).

“After 1994, and I didn’t return until 2000 but then came every year after that, I just love Bermuda,” said the 53-year-old, who was running with a longstanding injury.

“I feel like I’ve grown up here and have a special bond with the island. It’s a full body experience for me being here and I just love it so much. I’m not fully fit; I’m actually running with an injury, so it was incredibly painful and I haven’t really trained for the distance.

“I train for the half-marathon, which I find comfortable, so the full marathon was a real push and a tough mental challenge. I’m delighted to get through it. My legs were like two lead balls over the finish line, but I’ve done a lot and so it was OK.

“I have a memory of the course and so I split it into stages. In my mind I don’t really feel like I get started until mile 14, after that I gauge how I feel.

“Every year the crowd are fantastic. It’s lovely as well because people recognise me and know my name and they help me through it every year.”

As well as Coetsee impressing in the women’s race, other Bermudian-based athletes to have caught the eye in the marathon included Tim Price, who finished fifth in a time of 3:26:46 and Stephen Egan, finishing just place behind in 3:27:12.