JJ Santana and Ellie Stevens master conditions to clinch 10K win
JJ Santana and Ellie Stevens were at their dominant best to clinch victory in the BF&M 10K Run and Walk today.
Battling against howling winds, 35-year-old Santana, who finished fifth a day previously in the Butterfield Mile, was in the leading pack before putting a gap between himself and his rivals to cross the line in a winning time of 32min 39sec.
Elias Graca sealed his second runner-up finish in the Triangle Challenge after losing out to Dage Minors in the Butterfield Mile, finishing slightly less than 30 seconds adrift of Santana in 33:06 with Tyler Butterfield the first Bermudian to cross the line in third in a time of 33:25.
“It was a really dynamic course with the rolling hills and I just loved it,” said Santana. “The wind was a little tough but I felt good and really enjoyed the race.
“The first mile or so everyone was just feeling the course out with the big hill at the start. I just stayed conservative but then after that point I separated from the pack and was on my own for the rest of the race.
“For this course, having run the night before and also with the weather I was pretty happy with my time.
“I just love to race and so the format of the Triple Challenge just really suits me; I just love it.”
Butterfield was delighted to have got himself on the podium, having been disappointed with his performance in the Mile in which he clocked 4:50.
“Last night I was a little nervous and ended up hardly breaking five minutes, which was disappointing” said the 39-year-old. “I was much happier with today and overall I was pleased.
“I thought there would have been a few more of us coming into the finish line together but I was glad when I glanced over my shoulder to see that no one was close behind me. I thought I had third place but funnily enough I was still nervous.
“It’s just so great to be back home and just enjoy these three days of racing. For me this is all about staying fit. In February, I’ll be 40 years-old and although I don’t have too many goals in mind this year, it’s not hard to twist my arm and do a race.”
There was also joy for Stevens, who having finished second a day previously in the Mile, tasted success as the first female to finish in 37:47, which was good enough for 12th overall.
American Christina Vergara Aleshire, the second female over the line, finished a place behind in 13th, one spot ahead of compatriot Amanda Nurse in 38:48.
“I’m really pleased with my performance,” she said. “It was really windy and hilly and for some reason we had no idea it would be that hilly of a course.
“I had no real race plan, I just tried to take the downhill sections quickly and try to build a lead. Thankfully I felt really strong out there and just really enjoyed it.
“The crowd were also fantastic and made it a really fun event.”
• Ahead of the final day of competition with the PwC Bermuda Marathon, Half-Marathon and Half-Marathon Relay tomorrow, Graca tops the Triple Challenge standings, ahead of Santana, with Poland’s Wojciech Kopec in third.
Meanwhile, Gina McNamara, winner of the elite female mile and fourth in the 10k, leads the women’s standings ahead of Nurse and Maria Kemiji-Mcdonald.