Domico Watson takes new passion for running into Bermuda Day Half-Marathon Derby
There was a time when running was not a focus for Domico Watson, even though his parents, Mike Watson and Donna Raynor, were two of the island’s top middle-distance runners.
These days it is hard to keep the 29-year-old off the road as he competes with a passion that must surely make his parents proud.
Watson, who had four third-place finishes in the recent Legends Series, will compete in another Bermuda Day Half-Marathon on Friday.
Last year he finished seventeenth in a time of 1hr 28min 53sec, but was in good company as he was just three seconds behind nine-times winner Kavin Smith.
Watson, who described participation in the marquee event as a privilege, shared his pleasure at rubbing shoulders with and competing alongside the top runners on the island and believes he has done his best to prepare for this weekend’s race.
“[My preparation has] been going well. Up until the Legends Series I would say it was going at its absolute best but then I had a couple of niggles, a couple of things I have been pushing through,” said Watson.
“But come race day I’m hoping my body would have gotten some rest and that by then I will be ready to go and I can put out my best performance. I’m hoping to get at least a PB over this course.
“My PB for a half-marathon is 1:18 and I would love to get close to that, or somewhere under 1:20 for this course. That’s what I’m pushing for and where things have been lately. I believe this will be my seventh May 24th.”
Two years ago when the race from Somerset to Hamilton was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Watson ran the course anyway on the holiday and recorded a time of 1hr 19min.
“I ran for the circumstance of it all and when I ran 1:19 over the course, in my head I thought it would be awesome if I could have run that officially on May 24th,” he explained.
“I did get unofficially under 1:20 and the last time I ran the course was two years before then when I ran a 1:36, but I wasn’t running as seriously as I am now.
“My PB for this course is well under what I’m capable of now so I’m hoping to at least go beyond that. My PB for the May 24 course out of St George’s is 1:21.”
Watson runs four times a week on average, putting in between 40 and 60 miles. Leading up to the big race he is consistently putting in 50 miles a week.
However, this commitment was not always present for Watson, who at one point focused his energy on tennis until the need to improve his fitness sent him on the road.
“When I was younger I was actually bigger into tennis and took that pretty seriously, even travelled away for it,” he said. “But I started running in college just to get fit, and spent about four years just getting into it just for fitness.”
In the last decade he has been taking it more seriously, even competing in the New York Marathon and also doing local races.
“The training changed a little bit, running every week and over the last two years I’ve really tried to change the way I approach running, going to the track, doing sessions there and competing in cross country and even doing some track meets this year.”
Watson added: “I like track and field, I can watch it all day and I love May 24th, the history and the culture behind it. When I was younger I remember watching people like Kavin and Jay [Donawa] compete.
“My dad won his last race one year before I was born, but I saw him run it when he was older, just doing it for fun. He always loved the atmosphere of May 24.”
Mike Watson claimed the last of his four victories in 1991, after also winning in 1984, 1985 and 1987.
The two Watsons ran the race together in 2015, finishing together in 52nd and 53rd places after clocking the same time of 1:35:19.
Mike came out of retirement after 19 years in order to run the St George’s course for the first time that year.
Finishing with his father was a special moment for Domico.
“I think it was cool that in my first May 24th I finished with my dad,” he said. “If I was asked the coolest May 24th memory, that would definitely be it.
“That was his first May 24th out of St George’s and it was my first race. We were having fun, he went out hard to lead us and then every mile people were saying ‘your dad’s not that far ahead’, so I kept chugging away to see how close I could get to him.
“Around town I saw him and when I caught up to him we chatted and said let’s go ahead and finish together.”
Now Domico runs with plenty of support from his parents.
“They tease me now, they say ‘you’re actually doing more mileage now than we ever did’, especially my mom who loved the 800 [metres],” said the graphic designer.
“I just enjoy it now, I find running relaxing and a nice way to step away from the stress. I work on a computer all day so it’s a nice excuse to get outside and do something.”