BY Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Just shy of her 67th birthday, Velma George of Virgin Gorda, returned from a seven-year break to complete her 20th lifetime Marathon on August 23, as she prepares to run in the November 4, New York City Marathon.
George, who held the BVI Marathon record of 4 hours, 41 minutes and 30 seconds from November 14, 1993 up to January 10, 2016 when the mark was lowered by Anna Kinkead to 4:24.44, said she decide to train for the New York Marathon earlier this year.
“My training buddy and I wanted to use the Sri Chinmoy Marathon as a training run,” said George who finished the course in 6 hours and 12 minutes and 24 seconds, while placing 396th overall on Thursday. “From the first mile to the 26th plus the .2, we completed the entire Marathon, making that my 20th full Marathon. My training continues and I’m grateful and thankful to be back. Much appreciation to family and friends who encouraged and inspired me to continue my distance running.”
George who was in Virgin Gorda over the summer ahead of her 20th Marathon, said that after a seven year break from running Marathons, she’s grateful.
“I’m looking to do New York in under six hours,” said the Marathon veteran. “I’ll be 67 in two weeks so just being able to finish without injuries, is a blessing.”
The seven year break George noted, gave her a chance to rejuvenate.
“I felt like I recovered from my injuries using my self-healing process,” she stated. “I walked away (from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon) feeling great and inspired to continue running many more Marathons.”
During last year’s 3rd Tortola Torture, she was enlightened that she held the record for almost 23 years, before Kinkead eclipsed the mark.
“I’m impressed. I did not know that I held the BVI Marathon record, I’m very honored and have so much appreciation,” said George who has now completed 20 of the 26.2 mile races and one Ultra Marathon, a 37.2 miler. “I think Rey (O’Neal) had mentioned it to me but I forgot over the years.”
Before being slowed by injuries and taking a running break, George said she’d been call all kinds of names as a runner. “I’ve been called crazy and everything for running, but I love it and I missed it so much,” she said. “It has helped me solve a lot of my problems—things you go through and try to work it out.”
The Virgin Gorda native began running during her collegiate days at Lehman College. She said she was under a lot of stress and began running by a reservoir then someone suggested running around it. Later on, an 18 year old encouraged her to run a 10K.
“I did it without registering for the race and completed it in under an hour and he said ‘see you can run,’ so I started from that,” she remembers. “I kept running with the group doing distance running, hill running. I used that period of time when I was in college, stressed out with life and as a young mom, to work out my problems. I love running alone and making decisions as I ran.”
She added: “Running is the thing that really kept me grounded. It allowed me to be me, live my life and have fun at the same time.”