One of the longest-standing road race course records in Bermuda has been broken by Harry Mulenga, of Zambia.
The teenager set new figures in the Fairmont-to-Fairmont 7.2-mile event, beating one of the highest quality fields assembled in recent years.
Mulenga scorched to overall victory in exactly 36 minutes, beating the 1989 record by eight seconds. Defending champion Chris Estwanik battled all the way, but with less than a mile to the finish, Mulenga kicked clear of his nearest rival going up the steep Princess Driveway at The Fairmont Southampton. The 19-year-old pulled away and maintained a winning margin over Estwanik.
“When I started to kick there was no response from the others,” Mulenga said.
He ran most of the race in the company of five-times winner Estwanik and 2012 champion Lamont Marshall, but the talented trio were finally separated in the final, testing mile as Mulenga pushed for home with Estwanik in hot pursuit.
Estwanik crossed the finish line second in 36:08, equalling Dave Swanston’s former course record from 25 years ago. Third home was Marshall, whose 36:28 ranks among the five fastest times in the race’s 37-year history.
“It felt good running in a group. I was not too sure of the course,” said Mulenga, who attends Central Arizona College with one of Bermuda’s fastest young runners, Juma Mouchette.
Mulenga has been staying with friends in Bermuda for the new year break. It is his first visit to the Island and fitting in a race or two while here is an added bonus for the track athlete. He has run 1:49 for 800 metres, 3:46 for 1,500m, and 23:33 for 8km. He hopes to compete again during the Bermuda Marathon Weekend this month.
“I’m so happy to be in Bermuda and thank the organisers for putting on this event. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to experience this race,” he said, expressing a desire to defend his title next January.
Runner-up Estwanik was delighted that an overseas runner of Mulenga’s quality had shown up on the Island to increase the competitiveness of the road race.
“Myself, Harry and Lamont started off at a conservative pace, but the pace quickened as the race progressed,” he said. :We really picked up the pace towards the end and the three of us were working together.
“Harry blasted up the hill and I was trying to catch him on the downhill to the finish. I’m thankful that we have quality competition coming here to compete with us. I know I would not have run as fast as I did today if Harry had not been here.”
Ashley Estwanik successfully defended her women’s title, coming home tenth overall in a race with 269 finishers. Her time of 44:14 was marginally faster than a year ago. Deon Breary was second woman in 47:53, while former champion Victoria Fiddick was third in 49:25.
A number of age category course records were set in the adult and junior races. In the main event, Jay Donawa, who won seven consecutive Fairmont races between 2000 and 2006, broke the men’s masters course record when he came home fifth overall in 40:13.
The junior 3km race was won by Jayden Ming in 9:14, ahead of Ryan Outerbridge (9:26) and Akim Johnston (9:30). First girl was Lynsey Palmer, fifth overall in 9:55, who broke Flora Duffy’s 2001 age category (13-15) course record by two seconds.
The next two girls to finish also set age category records. Jade Johnson was seventh overall in 10:07, breaking Furbert Kerri’s 2005 age category (8-10) record by 23 seconds. Third girl was Mikaela Outerbridge, eight overall in 10:07 and breaking Jazmine Outerbridge’s 2007 age category (11-12) record by two seconds.
Another noteworthy result was achieved by Antun Duzevic, 71, who was first man aged over 70 to finish in the adult race, clocking an impressive time of 53:49.
In the adult relay race, made up of teams of three, the men’s race was won by Montpelier Re (47:38), the women’s relay team event was won by Team Froud/Stone/Rahr in (1:05.37), while the mixed relay team race was won by Paget Pacers (55:03).
In the race walk, Sinclair Smith was first in one hour 19 minutes and 42 seconds, followed by Howard Williams (1:19.45) and Leonard “Shinah” Simons (1:20.21). The first three women to finish were Andrea Bolley (1:22.09), Winnelle Simons (1:23.34) and Sheena Young (1:25.39).