By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Local runners, BVI Tourist Board officials and Sports Minister Dr. Natalio Wheatley welcomed 43 visitors from around the world as they stepped of the Costa Magica on Sunday morning at the Cyril Romney Pier Park, to run the first Marathon in the territory.
The group, joined by the local runners who did several laps with them, were in the middle of running seven Marathons in six days in the Caribbean, in the event that was sponsored by O’Neal Webster. Dr. Wheatley welcomed them to the territory and started the race.
“Counting Ultras, I’ve run 722—600 Marathons and 122 Ultras—said Richard Holmes of North Carolina, who was on No 723 in the BVI, his 121stcountry. “I started this 40 years ago and for my wife, this is the 51stcountry to do a Half Marathon in. We started together when we were both back in the Army and it was my weakest thing, so we started on what I was worst at—I was a terrible runner.”
The BVI was Brent Weiner’s 173rdcountry in which he was running a Marathon.
“I started in 1968 right out of high school and started running in 1962 when I was in elementary school,” he reflected. “My last Marathon was in Guadeloupe and I ran 4:50 something there.”
Julius Farley, in his first Marathon, clocked 3 hours 41 minutes and 23 seconds to top the podium.
“This was harder than the (Tortola) Torture to me,” he said. “In the Torture, you got help going down the hills, but in this, you had to run everything. The first Half Marathon was ok, but then, the body the body said it couldn’t do more. It was really hot.”
Vanessa King said they were very excited when road racing director Kay Reddy approached O’Neal Webster about the possibility of sponsoring the first BVI Marathon.
“We thought it was a great idea as we always encourage a healthy lifestyle in the BVI and the fact that this is a part of that, we were eager to come on board,” said King, a managing partner in the firm. “BVI Runners has always had an excellent organization manner in how they deal with their events, so we’re very happy to be part of it.”
A she helped refresh the runners using the firm’s biodegradable products, she was asked what she thought about visitors running a Marathon every day on their trip.
“It blows my mind to be honest, that they would do six Marathons in seven days in six different countries,” she said. “That’s beyond my thought process, but it’s so inspiring, especially with so many of them are older runners and the oldest is 81. He’s running this thing like it’s no joke. I’m also happy that a lot of our local runners could be a part of it and be inspired by them. So, it’s a great event.”
Ziyad Rahim, Founder and CEO of Zadventures, said the group had Marathoners who had run in over 170 countries and nine who have run a Marathon in over 100 countries.
“That’s the best of who’s who in global Marathons globe trotters you’d find,” he said. “But, no one has ever run a Marathon in BVI, so as you can see, they’re all very excited. It’s really an honor. I love the organization, the way you have organized it, it’s exceptionally unbelievable and I’m so thankful to Kay (Reddy). All I did was sent out email and she was so responsive. It’s absolutely amazing and I can’t thank her enough.”