Sean Trott vows to stick to the wicket in search of first Derby win
Sean Trott will have to battle with defending champion Lamont Marshall and previous winner Chris Estwanik as he bids for a first win in the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon tomorrow.
Another former winner, Kavin Smith, who has nine wins under his belt, was a surprise inclusion in the entries released yesterday by the organisers.
Smith, who last raced in 2011 after four top-five finishes between 2006 and 2009 when supposedly past his prime, will be among the top runners in the first starting group, although not expected to be a serious contender.
Trott already has completed ten Bermuda Day races since he made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2006, clocking six top-ten finishes along the way. However, first place still eludes Trott, who has seen Marshall brothers Larry Jr and Lamont claim top spot, finishing second to Lamont in 2018 and 2019.
Trott finished eleventh as a 17-year old when Larry Marshall Jr won in 2007 and then was sixth and fifth the next two years when Estwanik took the tape. After an injury in 2010 ruled him out, Trott returned with two more podium finishes in 2011 and 2012 — third and second — as Estwanik picked up two more wins.
“Obviously with Chris in, it is going to change the dynamic of the race, I’d say, as he adds a new element to the day,” Trott said of tomorrow’s race, which will have the 20 top-rated men and five women going off in the first wave.
“Anything can happen to anybody at any point during the race, so you always have to stay right there and be ready to move if something happens and be able to execute.”
The race could spring a surprise or two with runners having to rely mostly on training runs rather than build-up races because of Covid restrictions over the past several months.
“Training has gone very good, I just had a few little setbacks with the Covid vaccines, which had a minimal disruption,” Trott said.
“Apart from that, everything went well. I got in the mileage I wanted to get in, as well as the harder workouts, so I couldn’t have done anything better leading in.”
Trott finished three minutes behind Marshall (1hr 11min 38sec) in the last race two years ago, also out of St George’s. Trott’s time of 1:14:58 was more than a minute faster than third-placed Sammy Degraff, who clocked 1:16:13.
“It’s just a matter of staying disciplined early because it is easier to go out too hard,” Trott said. “It’s a matter of conserving some energy for the end.
“I’m just looking to stay competitive, obviously there hasn’t been any races when usually you can gauge your fitness based on races you’ve done. I’m looking at workouts I’ve done and runs I’ve run to see what type of fitness I have compared to previous years.
“I’d say I’m in similar shape, if not better, and would love to stay in contention and go from there, really.”
Trott appreciates the atmosphere the spectators bring to the race as they line up along the route. “I hope a lot of people will be able to come out to spectate,” he said. “I know it will be different, but I will definitely welcome anybody who comes out, even if it is much smaller than normal.
“From the things I’ve heard, it seems there will be quite a few people out. Spectators really make the day, especially this race; they carry you through.”
Trott appreciates how difficult it is to win this race, with Jay Donawa not getting his only victory until 2017, the year Trott finished ninth after missing the previous year.
“I definitely can look at him for a lot of inspiration in terms of how he hung in there over the years,” said Trott, 31. “Lamont didn’t get his first win until he was in his early thirties and was there for a few seconds and thirds as well.
“It speaks a lot about sticking to the wicket and getting out there year after year.”
Marshall was 31 when he claimed victory in 2016 while Donawa was 44 when he finally got his first win after eight second-place finishes. He announced beforehand that the 2017 race would be his last.
“You will never, ever call me a bridesmaid again,” a triumphant Donawa declared at the finish line. “I’m the bride of brides so I will take my eight seconds and my victory today.”