Teenage runner Tahj Lewis is considerably richer this week after winning one of the shortest races on the local calendar, which also happens to be one of the most rewarding.
The Valentine’s Mile race – which helped raise money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society – started and finished at Bayshore Mall on Sunday and was again sponsored by Kirk Freeport.
This was the fourth staging of it and another win for the ever improving Lewis, who showed his strength to the line, easing home in 4 minutes, 50 seconds.
The 17-year-old CARIFTA hopeful walked away with an armful of prizes and vouchers, and for his five minutes’ effort must be inspired to repeat winning this popular event again.
He was marginally second last year and looks set to dominate in the future.
Also improved was another teenager, Delano Callender, who held off the challenge of veteran Marius Acker for second and third, respectively.
It was good to see Chadwick Webster racing again after a long injury layoff, and he was the fourth athlete home.
Claire Critchley, 10th overall, took the honors this year in the women’s race. Joanna Mansi came 14th and just held off a late challenge by Kiara McLaughlin for second place, with last year’s winner Tiffany Cole finishing in fourth.
The kids race was its usual fun event, with 47 youngsters running through the finish line to earn their medals.
Race director Derek Larner was pleased that a total of 250 people registered for both races, but said he would appreciate entrants pre-registering online well ahead of the race in future because chip timing preparation becomes too frantic and congested immediately before the race start time if too many are waiting to be logged into the system.
Larner said that he was again impressed with how well the teenagers he coaches did, particularly Lewis, Callender, Sherlock Brooks, Brandon Williams, McLaughlin and Cole.
Other teenage high finishers were Benedict Lowe (19th) and Eddie Weber (20th).
“It was good to see Delano hold off the challenge of Marius,” said Larner. “And Joanna Mansi did exceptionally well to come second in an event much shorter than she normally enters, although Kiara was trying to catch her on the line but accidentally got blocked from doing so.”
Larner praised Critchley for winning so impressively, although Tiffany Cole was the pre-race favorite. “Tiffany wasn’t herself in this race,” he said. “She has been training hard for CARIFTA and had trained earlier and was not in top shape.”
Philip Riposo, the race director for the inaugural cross-country run at the North Sound Golf course last month, also ran this one.
Larner was pleased that Riposo entered. “For someone so experienced who has run over 800 races and organized dozens of runs, it is good to see Phil still has the enthusiasm to take a break from organizing, and run in an event,” Larner said. He added that he too would have liked to run rather than organize, “because it is far less stressful!”