October 2012

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It’s Half-Marathon Day!

The ninth annual UWI SPEC International Half-Marathon presented by First Citizens, got off in the wee hours of this morning, and by the time you read this, the challenge between the Kenyan athletes and the cream of Caribbean distance runners would have been decided.

The lead-up to this premier running event had been rife with speculation over the potency of what was deemed the Kenyan challenge – on the men’s side, led by defending champion George Towett, who stopped the clock last year at 1:06:41, and Stephen Tanui who finished fourth in 2011. Leading the Caribbean pack was top Guyanese Cleveland Forde, T&T’s Richard Jones who has always finished in the top five, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Pamenos Ballantyne, who was crowned T&T Marathon champion seven times, and Miami-based Ronnie Holassie who holds the national record for the 5,000m and the Marathon. The men’s course record of 1:05:07 was set in 2006.

The women’s race was expected to be an exciting contest between the Kenyan pair of 2012 T&T Marathon champion Mary Akor and Judy Jesire Kimuje, and T&T’s Tonya Nero and Guyana’s Alika Morgan. Nero recently set a new national record of 1:15:13 at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Bulgaria. The queen of local long distance running now holds four national records: her other records are in the 5000m, 10000 and the Marathon. The female course record of 1:12:08 was set by Jemima Sumgong of Kenya in 2006. Sumgong has since gone on to make a name for herself and in April this year placed second at the prestigious Boston Marathon.

The male and female champions are guaranteed US $2,000 with an additional US $1,000 for breaking the course record. The race started at 6am outside UWI SPEC at St. Augustine Circular, headed east on the traffic-free Priority Bus Route up to La Resource, D’Abadie, where runners have to turn around and head back to the start. Our photos from last year’s event show two of the race stalwarts, Granny Luces and Charles Spooner.