Thomas Mills and Bella Wright make Labour Day 5K breakthroughs
Thomas Mills captured a maiden Swan’s Running Club Labour Day 5K title at the first attempt this morning.
The 39-year-old Englishman executed a flawless race to lead the field across the finish line in 16min 38sec on his debut in the traditional road season opener.
Tajai Goater, 16, led the pack for the first quarter of a mile, with Mills trailing behind in second.
The fast pace eventually took its toll on Goater approaching the roundabout on North Shore.
Seizing his moment, Mills took full advantage as he grabbed the lead for good, which he extended to cross the line more than a minute ahead of second-placed Shannon Lawrence.
“It’s hot and some of the good guys like Sean Trott were not out and a few others,” Mills told The Royal Gazette. “But it’s nice to win this event and is my first win in Bermuda as well, so I am happy about that.
“I have been in Bermuda for three years doing the road races through the year but kept going a bit more through the summer, so it’s good to blow off the cobwebs and get a decent run in.
“With the hill [Palmetto] obviously it takes a bit out of your legs and slows you down. But you have downhill all the way to the finish, so you can use that to coast in a little bit and give the lungs a little bit of a respite.
“It was good fun and it’s nice to be back out racing again as normal.”
Lawrence crossed in 17:45, with Philip Wollins rounding off the men’s podium in third in 17:55.
Making it a clean sweep of men’s and women’s honours for England was Bella Wright, who came out on top in a fierce battle with three-times Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby winner Rose-Anna Hoey.
Hoey led the early stages before Wright made the decisive break just past Palmetto Hill.
Very little separated the two as they neared the finish, with Wright crossing four seconds ahead of Hoey in 19:14 sec to claim Gayle Lindsay’s vacant crown.
“I haven’t won this event before, so it feels good,” said Wright, who was seventh in the overall field of 87. “I wasn’t expecting it because Rose-Anna is such a strong runner.
“I just felt really good and thought I would stick with her as long as I could.
“After Palmetto Hill, I got a gap and thought I could probably hold this if I dig deep.
“I looked behind and saw the gap wasn’t really changing, so I dug deep and held it downhill.
“I felt pretty comfortable and was surprised because I had a bit of a niggle on the weekend in my hip and contemplated pulling out.”
Maria Kemiji-Mcdonald rounded off the women’s podium in 21:04.
Tajahri Rogers and Jaeda Grant retained their boys’ and girls’ titles in the 2.2km junior race.
Rogers led the field across the line in 8:37, followed by Grant in second in 9:19.
Jacob Wright was the second finisher in the boys division and third overall in 9:51.
Kelise Wade was the second girl in 10:24 and Ella Shepherd third in 11:17.
Rory Shepherd rounded off the boys’ podium in 10:34.
Paul Hayward won the 5km walk in 33:59, with Gilda Cann retaining her women’s title in 40:08.