American high-school athletes return home with special memories of Bermuda
A first trip to Bermuda often leaves a long-lasting impression and American high-school athletics coach Ted Leblow is certain that the island has had an impact on his young runners.
Leblow, who is head of the cross-country programme at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colorado, supervised a team of 14 runners as they completed alongside local athletes at the Botanical Gardens on Saturday, but it is memories of Bermuda rather than the race itself that his students will be taking home.
“The number one thing about this trip was the experience,” Leblow said to Milesplit.com.
“I wanted them to have an experience that’s unlike anything they could have had anywhere else. We’ve been to other races but the experience here is unlike anything else.
“I’m not talking about the races and the toughness of the course but just being in Bermuda and seeing a different country, meeting people on the buses, talking to people, and people in Bermuda have just been so nice, so receptive and so warm. I think the kids came off the ferry one time and all the locals were clapping and cheering.
“The highlight has just been watching the smiles on their faces. I was in the military, I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve seen a lot but I love just seeing them have this experience and watching them reach out to the other kids here. They were playing a bunch of games last night and they grabbed some kids from here to play with them. They haven’t just bonded with each other but they have reached out locally because that’s what it is all about.”
One thing Leblow will be happy to forget is the 5,000m course at the Botanical Gardens after the 54-year-old finished fourth in the Men’s Open division.
“I ran it for the kids really,” Leblow said. “Usually, I don’t do much running as I’m the coach. They all had fun yelling at me and cheering for me as I usually do for them and it actually helped. I followed their advice, which is the same advice I give them.
“There were times that this hurt and this is one of the hardest five kilometres I’ve ever run and I’ve been running for 40 years. I ran a 5k a couple of weeks ago in about 21 minutes and I was three minutes slower on this course.
“The hills were tough, I mean we’re used to hills but these ones are tougher than you think. We’re also not used to the humidity at all so that’s a factor as you’re just sweating a lot more. Just because you’re at sea level, it doesn’t make it any easier, especially with the course as tough as this one. It’s just a constant mental push.
“After running it, I’m just really proud of how the team did because for them to run as hard as they did, push as hard as they did and produce the times they did, was great because like I said I was hurting. I’m sure they were hurting too but they were able to be really strong out there.”