Wed | Apr 21, 2021

Jamaican marathon runners

Published:Monday | November 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Almost there.
Kaili (right) and Lyndsey heading off to New York.
Duncan Messado
Jamaican cheering squad from left: Christine Messado, Debra Edwards, Elizabeth Wolf, Kaili McDonnough-Scott, and Marc Goodman.
Dwight: 'I'm about to finish this marathon, but first, let me take a selfie.
Duncan Messado shows off his medal.
Sacha Chung (left) and Stacy Halsall-Peart pose after the New York City Marathon.
From left: Peter Jervis, Dayne Jervis, Stephen Jervis, and Margret Jervis.
Sacha Chung (left) and Stacy Halsall-Peart during the New York City Marathon.

Over 50,000 runners invaded New York on November 1 to participate in the world's largest and most popular marathon - the New York City (NYC) Marathon. Kenyan runners Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany came in first place in the men's and women's races, respectively.

Seven Jamaicans participated in the NYC Marathon and two in the Chicago Marathon on October 11. Today, Outlook spoke with to a few of the participants about their marathon experiences.

New York

Lyndsey McDonnough

1. Who or what inspired you to participate in a marathon?

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish, and running a marathon was one of them. I heard about the NYC marathon from Nicholas Scott, my brother-in-law, and decided to go for it. I entered the raffle, got selected, and the rest is history.

2. How did you prepare for the marathon?

I had no idea what I was getting into, so I just decided to blindly follow all my brother-in-law's instructions. I started off with the Hal Higdon running programme, which tells you how many miles to do each day and mixed it up with some cross training workouts. I also ran several times a week with my running club - We Got The Runs (WGTR).

3. Who was your biggest supporter?

Hands down, Nicholas. He has done the NY Marathon twice and was there guiding and supporting me every step of the way. Any moment where I had doubts, he was there to boost me up. Without that, it would have been much more difficult or almost impossible!

4. What was your biggest fear at the start line?

Cramping up or getting injured and not being able to complete the full marathon was my greatest fear. After training all that time, I couldn't imagine not finishing.

5. We hear that the signs during the course are hilarious. What was your favourite sign and why?

"Don't trust the fart" ... and if you run, you know exactly why!

6. Did you hit a wall during the marathon?

Hitting the wall is when you have sudden fatigue and loss of energy. I didn't experience that. What I did experience was excruciating pain in my legs. I had to stop and stretch, then stop and stretch again, but the pain kept coming back. I had to tell myself that I'm just going to run slow and finish this, no matter what. Suddenly, at mile 20, all the pain was gone! I think the best part of the marathon were miles 20- 26.2.

7. How did you feel when you crossed the finish line and were handed your medal?

I must admit it, I felt like crying! I was so proud of myself and that it was finally over. I also thought, 'Did Nick see what I just did in those last few miles?'

8. What is the greatest lesson learnt ?

Running has taught me several lessons, including:

• With self-discipline, all things are possible.

• Pain is temporary.

• It never gets easier, you just get stronger.

• You don't have to go fast, you just have to go.

Duncan Messado

1. My inspiration was fuelled by the drive to see if I could really complete one. I started running in 2012, doing 5Ks with Jason Palmer (Palmer Stylz), then we went to Negril that December and I did the 10K. After completing the 10K, I was determined to come back the following year and do the half-marathon. I trained that entire year for that half-marathon with the WGTR family, which has been a great addition to my life. I successfully completed that half-marathon and have done many since then. After Reggae Marathon in 2014, I said it was time for a full marathon, so I entered the New York marathon lottery and I got in.

2. I was very lucky because three friends of mine were also training for a marathon, so we downloaded a training plan off the Internet and followed it. It was a lot of work running four times a week, sometimes as much as 30 miles for the week. We also had great support from other running friends that came out and ran with us at some ungodly times in the morning.

3. My wife and my training partners, who never doubted that I was able to complete the training programme and the marathon, even when I doubted myself.

4. Not finishing and disappointing all the people all over the world who were tracking me.

5. "If Donald Trump can run for president, you can definitely run 26 miles, and 26.2 miles because 26.3 would just be crazy."

6. No, I did not, but by mile 23, my body was hurting - my foot bottom, legs and back - but I was too close to the finish to stop.

7. Happy it was over because I was so tired, but I also had a feeling of accomplishment that I set out to complete something and I was able to. I did not get emotional and was just too exhausted to cry.

8. The greatest lesson is that nothing is impossible if you put in the work. You just have to apply yourself.

Dwight Nelson

1. After I took up long-distance running a year ago, I wanted to do it at the highest level, which for me, was the marathon. I had prepared myself physically to do the Reggae Marathon in Negril last December, but not mentally, so I dropped down to the half-marathon at the last minute. I felt bad because my preparation was for the marathon. It was then that I committed to doing a marathon in 2015, and I entered into the lottery for the New York Marathon.

2. Like most persons, I followed a marathon training plan based on my fitness level. However, I was constantly beset by injuries which forced me to be laid off for weeks and months. I had to just listen to my body by taking the necessary breaks and returning slowly, frustrating as they were.

3. TrueForm fitness members, without a doubt! When I was considering deferring my entrance to 2016 and thinking about pulling out all together (I was so frustrated and saddened by all the injuries I was suffering from which prevented me from training and being in the physical shape I needed), Dr Jair Lyons and the encouraging words of other members in the group made me decide to persevere.

4. My biggest fear at the starting line was whether my body would hold up over the 26.2 miles so that I could finish, but I was also concerned about not achieving my target time.

5. Those signs ... what can I say? They were very creative. The first of the two that stands out to me was somewhere around mile 14 when I started to feel a little tired, somebody held up a sign that read, "If Oprah can finish this marathon, so can you." It made smile as I thought to myself it's not that hard then. The second was at the last bridge on the course. The timing and the message couldn't be more appropriate because the bridges created massive inclines and made the course very difficult, so when I saw the sign which read, "Last damn bridge," I couldn't help but smile.

6. I'm not sure. People speak of the wall as if it was more mental than physical. Physically, I may have had it around mile 20 because I could hardly run without significant cramps from that point onwards.

7. I was happy it was over because the last six miles were very tough with the cramping, which prevented me from doing much running. At mile 20, I just wanted it to be over. Once it was over, I started feeling very cold and I just wanted to get out of the wet clothes, have a warm shower and go to bed.

8. Respect the distance - don't short cut the training, respect your need for electrolytes and take in as much as you can on the course.


Chicago marathon

Sacha Chung

1. I never ever wanted to run a marathon. I was actually comfortable working on the half-distance. A friend of mine from grad school who lives in Miami had run the New York Marathon in 2014 and jokingly suggested we run a marathon together. We entered the New York, Marine Corps and Chicago Marathon lotteries. We both got into Chicago, and it quickly snowballed from there.

2. My friends, Duncan Messado, Stacey Halsall-Peart, and I trained together by running four days a week using the Hal Higdon's training programme.

I had base training from my spinning background, which I continued at Pedal and Wheel and added yoga to round out my cross-training. My colleague and physiotherapist, Debra Callendar, also worked really hard to make sure I wasn't limping everyday.

3. I have an amazing group of family and friends who supported me every step of the way, and I can't possibly mention them all. I do have to single out Duncan and Mark Wong for their physical company and emotional support on our training runs that often seemed impossible.

My biggest supporter of all was Stacey, who started running with me to keep me company, then decided a few weeks into training that she was entering the marathon through a charity selection so I wouldn't be training and running on my own. She then ran the entire 26.2 by my side. I never would have completed the journey without her.

4. Not finishing!

5. "Forget the Kardashians ... Try keeping up with the Kenyans!"

6. I didn't hit a wall, per se. I fell on a training run a few weeks before the marathon and banged up my knee, which really started hurting at mile 17. I decided I'd come too far to let the knee pain be the reason I stopped because I was feeling great otherwise.

7. Proud, relieved, ridiculously emotional. I cried.

8. Anything is possible when you commit to a goal and put in the hours of work to achieve it, especially when you surround yourself with others who want it for you just as badly as you do.

Stacy Halsall-Peart

1. I never had any intention of doing a marathon. I was quite satisfied with continuing to do half. That distance is so perfect for me, but I saw this young woman running Norbrook hills with a group on Monday mornings, and she was at the back of the pack, and I started running with her. I hate leaving anyone behind.

I then started running with her on Thursdays as well. I remember asking her one Thursday if she wanted to go up Paddington Terrace and she reluctantly followed. Soon, we were bona fide running partners. Sacha signed up for the lottery to enter the Chicago Marathon and was granted a spot. My intention was to simply be a training partner - after all, everyone needs a partner. I'd chuckle whenever she asked if I didn't want to just do the marathon, but one morning while we ran up Russell Heights, I found myself actually considering it.

2. We followed the Hal Higdon training guide - most first-time marathoners do.

3. I'd have to say my running partners Sacha Chung and Duncan Messado. They knew I could do this even when I didn't.

4. That Endomundo won't start and my run won't be recorded. It's like you haven't run unless you can look back at the stats.

5. "Forget the Kardashians ... try keeping up with the Kenyans!"

"Don't trust that fart at mile 18."

"PR or ER."

"I'm sure it seemed like a good idea four months ago."

"You run better than the government."

There are tons of hilarious signs, and most are able to distract you for a while, which is good, but the signs that touch you are from the children of runners cheering on their parents.

6. We didn't even see the wall, the runners before us must have trampled it over. The second half of Chicago went fast mentally. The miles seem to jump to the extent that I was sure that the signs were wrong. At the 400 metre mark (400 meters to the finish), I turned to Sacha and asked, "400 meters to what?"

7. Admiration - and not for myself, but for my running partner, who ran 13 miles with knee pain, choosing to never give up.

8. The marathon was fun and the training was fun (hard, but fun), and I really didn't think that I learnt anything from this experience until I sat at my desk and decided to write about how I felt.

Yes, I ran a marathon, and you would think that was the highlight, but I've learnt a great deal from this unintended journey of mine. Through the 4 a.m. wake-up calls, the injuries and frustrations, there was a mighty team of friends who knew better than I, and knew that I could do this. And as the miles passed by, week by week, my confidence grew. Determination, dedication, drive, commitment, stubbornness ... can't quite find the right word, but as I ran beside my partner, with her knee injury acting up, she didn't stop. We slowed, we walked a little, and though I tried to encourage her to walk some more, she was determined to run through the pain, so we continued. And with every step, it became more apparent. These mere 26.2 miles wasn't the journey. The journey was filled with friends and family who believed, who ran with us early in the mornings because they simply wanted to show their support. They encouraged us when we felt that we couldn't continue. And as we ran the streets of Chicago, they were watching us, and cheering for us, and holding our hands along the way. And as I ran beside Sacha Chung, she taught me the greatest lesson of all. The victory wasn't that we were in Chicago, or that we ran fast. The victory is that we finished, and we finished strong!

I thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I'm ready to go again. I may very well be one of those old women who have "25th and final run" written on their bib.