Sammy Degraff targets Derby swan song
Sammy Degraff has targeted a personal-best time in what could potentially be his Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby farewell.
The former North Village and Bermuda midfielder has revealed that this could be the last time he competes in the 13.1-mile race before he moves to Tennessee with his family later this year.
“This might be it,” Degraff said. “God willing I still plan to run if available, but I really don’t know and can’t promise that.
“It’s definitely something that if I could, I would. But I really don’t know where my life will be at that time if I’m able to.”
The runner impressed during the previous race held in 2019 with a third place showing in a personal best time of 1hr 16min 13sec, which he is confident he can lower this year.
“I do believe I will get a PB,” Degraff added. “How fast, we’ll see.
“I’m looking forward to the race; I am stronger than I probably was last time which for me is a good thing. Compared to two years ago I do feel that I’m a bit stronger so I’m glad that I feel that improvement has been made.”
Degraff is expected to be among the top contenders for honours which also includes Lamont Marshall, the two-times defending champion, and Chris Estwanik, the six-times champion who also holds all three men’s course records.
However, while he is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as the multiple champions, Degraff chooses not to burden himself with that level of expectations.
“A lot of people have said ‘this is my year’ or ‘you’re going to win it’,” he said. “But I don’t really view myself like that because running has kind of been a new thing for me and I just really enjoy the progression.
“I try not to put any pressure on myself and that’s not even really my mindset to try to win it.
“If I did cross the line first I think that would be great. But for me winning is not so much crossing the line first.
“I think it should be an interesting race and I know Chris, Lamont and Sean [Trott] will be strong. But I’m trying not to focus on them and just run my race and see what happens.”
Degraff’s preparations have not gone without its share of challenges.
“I’m about to transition to the US so I have travelling back and forth,” he said. “I also had a few races overseas lined up before this that got postponed.
“For the most part I was still able to get most things done. I have put time in although I would say not everything has been ideal.
“But all of that’s gone now. Now you’re here coming to the day and you can’t really put anything else in. It’s just going out and believing in what it is what you’ve done and kind of see what happens.
“Come the day of the race I’m just going to see what happens. I’m just looking forward to run a beautiful race and whatever that looks like we’ll see.”
The derby will be held on May 28 and will start from St George’s at 8.30am and finish at Bernard Park.
“The challenge from St George’s is where the hills are located towards the end of the race,” Degraff said. “But this year for me I’m a lot stronger in that regard.”
The event was cancelled last year for only the second time in its 112-year history because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The other time it was cancelled was in 1915 because of the First World War.
“I think it’s a blessing that the race is even able to actually go ahead despite of everything that’s going on,” DeGraff added.