Ja's Green, Blagrove top Reggae Marathon
Rupert Green and Karlene Blagrove produced telling performances to win the respective male and female titles at yesterday's 14th staging of the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K road races in Negril.
The Reggae Marathon attracted more than 2,000 participants, including 91 year-old Montego Bay-born, US resident Louise 'Ms Lou' Estella Harrison.
'Ms Lou' covered the course in a wheelchair, which was pushed all the way by her daughter Linda Coy, before stopping within ten metres of the finish to walk across the line in one of the special moments of the marathon.
The Portmore-based Green completed the 26-mile course in 2:34:35 seconds, beating Latvian-born American Arturs Barekis (2:40:22) into second and last year's winner Gregory McKenzie (2:45:16) for third.
The winning time was significantly faster than last year's event, which McKenzie won in 2:40:45.
With last year's winner on the female side (Elina Junnila of Sweden) not returning to defend her title, a grieving Blagrove, who lost her mother to illness two days ago, showed tremendous grit and determination to win the women's marathon in 3:37:51, almost coming to tears after breaking the tape at the finish line.
She led home first-time participant Dana Martin-Kelly of Canada (3:50:34), with Bahamian Roberta Fontana third in 3:59:52.
Green had to overcome a hip injury he picked up early in the race.
"The guys kept it interesting all the way, but it seemed I hurt my hip early into the race, but I just had to keep my momentum going," said Green.
"It was a great course and very enjoyable run although I was feeling some pain. I am just very happy to come in first," he added.
There was a Jamaican sweep of the medal positions in the men's half marathon, with victory for Kirk Brown in 1:11:32. Jassette Bromfield was second in 1:16:29 and Lemar Leslie third in 1:19:16.
Switzerland's Melina Frei took first-place in the women's race, reaching the finish line in 1:31:06. She was followed by Jamaican Juliet Dinnal, 1:34:32, while Heather Calasuonno of Canada was third in 1:38:11.
Dwayne Graham (32:57), Frith Obrian (33:05) and Daniel Glave (33:02) completed another local sweep in the men's 10K race, which was matched by the women, as Shanieke Watson (34:22) took first, Lisa Buchanan, 39:50 (second) and Danielle James (40:33), third.
Race director Alfred 'Frano' Francis called the event a complete success, having drawn runners from 35 countries to surpass last year's registration numbers.
Bellefield High took the high schools title in the 10K for boys. Their winning time was 34 minutes 46 seconds, with St Jago and Holmwood rounding out the other placings who posted a second winner in BOY WONDER.
Holmwood, however, had no match in the girls category, landing the equivalent 10K title in a smart 41:40. Vere Technical were second in 41:58 and St Jago third in 43:49.