Smith marks return by finishing top
Two former champions of the Labour Day road race returned to the top of the podium with commanding winning margins today.
Chayce Smith was the overall winner of the 5K in 16min 31sec. He also won four years ago, which was the last time the race was a five-miler before it switched to the shorter distance.
While Gayle Lindsay, the women's champion in 2017, added another title as she finished first woman and third overall in 20:03.
It was a return to winning ways for Smith, 32, who has been away from the road racing scene for most of the past year.
Even before he reached the first corner in today's race he had opened up a 20-metre lead, and from then on he was out on his own. He clocked around 4:30 for the first mile.
“The first mile was way too fast and after that I was just hanging on,” he said. “But I'm doing a lot of speed work, so that may be why [it was so fast].”
Smith is being coached by Gerry Swan and is now in week nine of a 12-week programme, at the end of which he will do a time-trial to measure his progress.
The training has included speed sessions at 4am throughout July and August, which have given him exposure to heat and humidity, and which helped him cope with the 5K race conditions. He took the past week off from training because of a cold. “So I couldn't do anything spectacular, but I still felt good,” he said. He is primarily focusing on shorter, fast races.
“I'm getting older, and I've only got a couple more years of really running fast. I want to see if I can break 14 minutes in the 5K. That's why I have Gerry Swan as a coach, someone who knows what to do to get there.”
Runner-up Damian Gold was also out on his own for the majority of the 5K as he followed in the distant wake of Smith. Gold, the first master, finished in 18:32. Third man, and fourth overall, was Phil Alvey in 20:37.
Among the women, Lindsay, 30, broke away early and had some company from two of the men near the front before ending up on her own as she pushed ahead to win by more than a minute from Bella Wright, who clocked 21:25, and first women's master Catherine Mello, in 21:38.
Lindsay said the conditions were hot and humid, and once Smith and Gold had broken away she drew closer to the third and fourth-placed men along Front Street before passing them and striking out on her own.
She had hoped to duck under 20 minutes, and was only a few seconds shy of that target.
Her next outing will be the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in New York on Sunday.
“The dream is to go under five minutes, but it is going to be tough. I did 5:11 two years ago, and if I get a new PB I will be happy,” she said.
In the junior 2.2km race, Jauza James, 13, was first in 7:46, ahead of Khari Sharrieff in 7:57, and first girl Liana Medeiros in 7:59. In the 5K walk, Shinah Sminons was first in 35:11, ahead of Robert Durham, in 35:54, and Gilda Cann in 39:58.
Other 5K road race age division winners were, among the women: Zina Jones (senior master) 27:42; and Terri Durrant (60-69) 28:07. Among the men, the other winners were: Peter Drury (senior master) 21:37; Frederick Steede (60-69) 22:23; and Michael Whalley (over-70) 33:21.