Ashley Couper eager for more Bermuda Half Marathon Derby success
Ashley Couper has plenty of incentive to put her best foot forward as she guns for a record-equalling seventh title in this week’s Bermuda Half Marathon Derby.
The six-times winner came up just shy of the record, jointly held by Debbie Butterfield and Sandra Mewett, after finishing second behind Rose-Anna Hoey in the 13.1-mile race last year.
Butterfield held the record outright for five years before Mewett came along and equalled it with her last triumph in 1992.
Three decades later, Couper finds herself on the verge of joining the pair at the second attempt, and is a firm favourite to claim the women’s title this year in the absence of Hoey, who has been ruled out through injury.
“I am looking forward to the general excitement of the day,” said Couper, who holds both course records starting from Somerset (1:21:24) and St George’s (1:22:43). “I love May 24.”
As for her preparations for the big day, she added: “Preparations have been OK. I am not getting any younger, so I am not sure if they could have really gone much better.
“I suppose if I had another month to train the way I have been training for the last six weeks maybe it would get a bit better.
“It’s kind of an up and down and a lot of things going on in life as well. Sometimes it’s a little bit hard to balance everything, but I think training has gone OK.
“I am not going to be doing any PBs, that’s for sure. But I am just looking forward to getting out there and enjoying the day.”
Couper takes particular liking to the course starting from Somerset, which she set the record on in 2014.
“I like the fact that it is coming from Somerset,” she said. “I think I might prefer it but maybe ask me after I’ll have changed my mind about that.
“I am looking forward to the day and I think it’s going to be a really hot one given the fact the fact the weather is already very humid and warm.
“Looking forward to seeing how a lot of these other really speedy girls pan out.”
Couper established the course record starting from St George’s in 2015 and completed a hat-trick of titles the next year to join an exclusive group of runners to have achieved three or more consecutive wins that also includes Anna Eatherley and Hoey.
Excitement is abuzz as the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby will return to normalcy for the first time since 2019 with more than 500 runners participating.
“This is so awesome and I hope we have normal crowds at Foot of the Lane and Cedar Avenue,” Couper said. “That’s always fun.”
The Covid pandemic forced the 2020 race to be cancelled while last year’s event went ahead with restricted participation.
Hoey romped to a second successive victory and third overall to become the first back-to-back women’s winner since Couper’s three-peat.
However, she is unable to defend her title having not fully recovered from ailments suffered in a late-December incident, when she and a group of cyclists on a training ride were crashed into in a hit-and-run.
The race will be held on Friday, starting at 8.30am.