Brown, Lewis top Gleaner 180 5K
Raymond Graham, Sunday Gleaner Writer
KIRK Brown and Chris-Ann Lewis were the top male and female finishers at yesterday's historic Gleaner 180 5K Run/Walk, which started and ended outside of The Gleaner's head office on North Street, Kingston.
The event was held in commemoration of the media house's 180th anniversary, with proceeds going to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) phy-siotherapy department and the Peace and Love in Society (PALS) service organisation.
It was like a carnival affair prior to the start as the participants were taken through their pre-race warm-up routine in The Gleaner's car park by radio personality 'Jenny Jenny' and Steve Ming of Spartan Health Club.
There was also a symbolic moment, when The Gleaner's managing director, Christopher Barnes, took off his bib number and gave it to staff member, Oral Anderson, a senior citizen who is a regular on the road-race circuit.
Then it was off to the races.
Staged for the first time, the event, which had more than 2,000 entrants, saw an exciting finish among the men as Brown, Shawn Pitter and Rupert Green - three of the top local male road runners in the island - had a match race for the final 50 metres.
Brown stopped the clock at 16 minutes, four seconds to marginally beat Pitter (16.05) and Green, who was third in 16:13.
"It was not easy because I was ill coming into the race and I have not recovered the way I wanted to and it was not my best performance as I went against my doctor's advice and competed a bit earlier than I should, but I am happy for the win," said Brown.
"It was a close race between myself and Pitter throughout as we changed the lead on several occasions, but I told myself that I wasn't going to lose to him and that gave me extra energy," said Brown.
The female section lacked the finish-line drama of the men as Lewis led home her seniors. The 14-year-old, a student at St Jago High who competed under the Seek Exercise Book banner, clocked 20 minutes, 32 seconds. Juliette Dinnal finished second in 20:52, with third going to veteran Areita Martin, also of the Seek Exercise Book team, in 21:14.
"The race was not that easy, but I followed the instructions given to me by my coach and this is a good platform for me for the remainder of the season as I will continue to train hard," said Lewis.
Chairman of Running Events and race director, Alfred 'Franno' Francis, gave the event high marks.
"I am very pleased with the turnout as we had a wide cross section of persons, including top national athletes and wheelchair participants and the whole atmosphere was very good," said Francis.
"Celebrating 180 years with The Gleaner was indeed touching as The Gleaner has touched many lives and for the persons who are present giving back to the community it is indeed a great cause as The Gleaner must be commended for giving to its two beneficiaries, University Hospital of the West Indies physiotherapy department and PALS (Peace and Love in Society," he added, noting that he, too, benefited from the UHWI, when he was ill several months ago.