By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Since July 19 when the last Ceres Juices 10K Series was held before the traditional break and road racing was scheduled to resume in September, there has been no organized road races, thanks to Hurricane Irma that disrupted every aspect of the territory’s residents living.
While the Ceres Juices 10K Series would have run through early November as a prelude to this weekend’s Deloitte-Ogier BVI Half Marathon, the College Classic Series that began on October 19, 1996, with 19 persons, would run from September to November, with races on both Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
With roads on the traditional course at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Paraquita Bay oozing with water, it posed a hazard, but race Director Stephanie Russ Penn was determined to have at least one race go off this season, keeping the tradition alive.
That one race, a fun run, was held on Saturday, November 25 and resembled the inaugural race held 22 seasons ago, when 22 persons toed the line.
“It was actually fun and I’m a little disappointed more people weren’t here because it was a chance to socialize basically,” said Zebalon McLean, one of the 19 persons who participated in the inaugural College Classic Series race in 1996. “Also, it served two main purposes. One, to keep the tradition of the College Classic Series going even though it was basically one race and two, it helped persons get back into the swing of exercising.”
McLean added: “I know people have been busy cleaning, relocating and moving, but that isn’t quite exercising. A great deal of stress came with that so this helped us to unwind again and say hi to the people we are accustomed of seeing and to couple new faces.”
Reigning overall champion Reuben Stoby said he was itching to get a run in and was happy it came off even though it was not an actual College Classic Series race.
“I came to run as the defending champion so I enjoyed myself,” Stoby said. “It was a different course and thankfully it wasn’t wet. I was looking at the course yesterday and there was a lot of water so I’m happy they cut the course and I think it was good for everybody.”
Julius Farley who was second overall behind Stoby in last year’s series said it was good to come out get a run in after a ‘long time.’
“It was good and I’ve been getting a little run in, but he College Classic course, that’s the best because prepares you,” he said. “This is an unforgivable course. It’s like every time you do it, you’re doing it for the first time.”
Rosmond Johnson said she enjoyed the run even though it wasn’t quite a race.“I thought there would be more kids more or less, but I guess they are all tired because of Irma,” she said. “But at least we could do it and say we trampled Irma. We didn’t think it would happen because of all the mess on the road, so I think that’s why a lot of people didn’t come out. There are also people training for the Half Marathon on December 3, so that’s why more weren’t here.”
McLean added that the whole idea of the fun run is to keep the series going. “We know if things were different, we’d have over 200 so we’re looking forward to that in 2018,” he stated. “But this is letting people know that the College Classic Series, much against what they have heard, is alive and well.”
When asked, Russ Penn said it was important to have the race.
“After Irma and considering the idea of losing the whole entire series, I didn’t think we should go through the year and not have one event,” she said. “The biggest issue has been watching the water in the Paraquita Bay area and trying to figure out if something was feasible. Having the regular race just wasn’t feasible, but we might as well have come out and do something like we did today, have fun and keep the classic alive and create a momentum as we move into 2018.”
Russ Penn further stated: “I’m really happy for those who were able to come out today and I’m glad that this event happened even though it’s just one for the year that the classic lives on and will continue to live on.”