Goal-oriented Rose-Anna Hoey romps to third win
Rose-Anna Hoey joined an elite group of company after comfortably retaining her women’s title in the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby yesterday.
The 39-year-old romped to victory in a personal-best time of 1hr 25min 25sec to add her name to list of runners to have achieved back-to-back wins in the iconic 13.1-mile race.
“This win is really special to me because I haven’t been home in like 20 months and I really miss my family in Ireland,” Hoey said. “I know my family were all probably watching this on Facebook or something there.
“It just makes me feel like a returning to normality and hopefully I will be able to see my family soon.”
The win was the third overall for Hoey who became the first back-to-back women’s winner since Ashley Couper won three successive titles between 2014 and 2016.
The mother of one cut a lonely figure as she led from wire-to-wire to finish more than 3½ minutes ahead of nearest rival Couper.
“I went out aggressively and because it’s flat I ran the first 5K in about 19 ½ minutes,” Hoey added. “I was like whoever wants it has to come.
“It was just so fantastic to be out there and I was actually emotional in the last mile because I almost felt this is a return to normality and we’ve all had a really tough year.
“I want to thank the Premier and his government for everything that he has done for us so that we were able to race.”
The biggest challenge that Hoey encountered on the course was self-inflicted.
“I actually made a little bit of an error, I normally take a gel at Mile 8,” she said. “I was kind of smiling and waving at people a bit and I forgot to take my gel, so the last two miles I suffered.
“I may not have looked it; I think it was more a grimace than a smile.”
She added: “I feel really proud; I’m not getting any younger and it doesn’t get any easier.
“Everything that the pandemic threw at us made it very tough to train, but everybody was in the same boat. We all gave it our best shot and I’m very proud of the run that I did.
“Goal No 1 was to win, so that was nice. Goal No 2 was to see if I got a PB and I just about got one by the skin of my teeth.
“Goal No 3 was under 1:25:00 and I didn’t realise I was close to it.
“I should’ve probably picked it up a little bit more the last two miles because aerobically I felt OK, but the legs were feeling a bit stung.
“You don’t want to pull up with a cramp or a torn Achilles in the last 400 metres so I decided to hold back and cruise in.”
Hoey’s time was well shy of the course record starting from St George’s of 1:22:43, which Couper set in 2015.
Couper, the six-times winner, who holds both course records, finished second in 1:28:58 in her first appearance in the race since her last triumph in 2016.
“It’s so good to be back and it felt great,” she said.
“I was really nervous just because it’s my first time running it in five years and I knew it was going to be really hot, but, honestly, once I started I really enjoyed it.
“Obviously, it’s hard and it hurts, but I was so pleasantly surprised with the support out there. It was unbelievable and gave me goose bumps.
“The screaming and support was awesome, so I was really happy to be out there and had to do a lot of smiling and waving.”
Couper lowered her expectations on her comeback.
“To be honest the pressure was off because I knew how fit Rose was, so I just went out and did what I knew I could do pace-wise and enjoy the day,” she added.
“The time isn’t my best but the conditions were hot and humid, and I’m happy with how I did.
“I think I went out conservatively and did what I could do and actually enjoyed it and didn’t feel too miserable.”
Gayle Lindsay finished third in a personal-best time of 1:29:07 to round off the podium.
The 32-year-old was thrilled to have achieved her goals of lowering her time and securing at least a top-five finish.
“I usually go in having some expectation of what’s going to happen and what I can do; see how my body feels and just go with it and try and get to the finish line,” Lindsay said.
“I just had a great race. It all came together on the day and I am just so happy.”
She added: “The atmosphere is always incredible and you definitely noticed the difference probably just on the last mile, maybe like Front Street and less people out there.
“But on the whole the crowds are just amazing and it makes such a difference. I tried my best the whole way to soak up the atmosphere and just enjoy it.”