10K winner Alberto Rojas (SXM Roadrunners) passes through Belair on the way to the finish. (Robert Luckock photo)
PHILIPSBURG--Seasonal visitor from the UK, Ashley Mansfield, won the first ENNIA Full Marathon on Sunday to set a bench mark time for future full marathons to come.
It was the signature race of a logistically-ambitious running event organised by SXM Roadrunners that included Tortuga Half Marathon, Philipsburg Pharmacy 10K, and Green Meds 5K to cover all fitness types, and attracting over 200 runners in total. The staggered starts took place every hour from DIVI Little Bay Hotel.
Mansfield completed the 42K distance in a time of 3:00:27. The race which began in the dark at 4:15am attracted a much larger field than expected with 60 runners on the start line. Amazingly, all runners finished except for one.
“I led all the way, I wanted to get ahead and stay ahead,” said Mansfield at the finish. “I was concentrating on keeping my heart rate down and not to get overheated. I did cramp quite badly towards the end but I knew I had a good lead. The course was a super hilly, hard course but I was really happy with my time.”
Mansfield is working the high season with BWA yachting agency. He even had time to stop for a photo in Grand Case on his way to winning. He’s just done the world championships in Slovenia and won a race in Turkey. Next up is the Paris Marathon in April and the Dragon Back six-day mountain race.
SXM Tri Academie’s Gregory Pigeon finished second in 3:06:51 and had been specifically training for this marathon and adjusting his nutrition. Lying in third place most of the way, he overtook St. Barths’s top triathlete Fabien Husson towards the end when he started cramping. Husson finished in 3:11:12.
“I had a precise plan for 35K and after that it was just holding on to get to the finish,” said Greg. “I finished better than I expected.”
The Half Marathon was won by Alexandre Guerre in 1:37:05 with Steve Duzanson second in 1:38:44. Rick van den Linden was third 1:38:53. There were 69 finishers.
The 10K with 31 entries was won by Alberto Rojas in 46:53. Of note was St. Maarten Medical Centre’s Dr. Felix Holiday finishing in 22nd place.
“At the hospital we have a programme called “Fit for the Future”. As the lead at the hospital, I also have to set a good example. You have to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. I run at least 10K once a week,” said Holiday.
The 5K race attracted 65 runners and was won by Assemlal Abd El Jalil in 20:38. Macclin Sherriff (Dynamics Club) was second in 20:44 and third went to Yuvraj Vaswani (LU running crew) in 20:59. It was a surprise to see Lucien Gamiette, for years a competitive bodybuilder, turn into an accomplished runner. He finished seventh in 23:21.
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel was present for the full marathon start at 4:00am and assisted at the finish line handing out medals, remaining for the entire event.
A team from ENNIA marked out the courses, using different colours for the road markings so everyone knew where they were going. Aside from instances of cramp, there were no medical emergencies and almost every single runner finished. Groups of runners participated from Saba and St. Barths.
President of SXM Roadrunners Krispijn Teunissen credited the around 55 volunteers for the smooth running of the event.
“It was difficult for them having that very early start and then the long wait for the last full marathon runner to finish. A big, big thank you to all of them as it wouldn’t have been doable without them.”
He disclosed the full marathon course was tested at least five times and he talked of the challenges of obtaining permits and insurance to run a full marathon in two countries.
“We couldn’t get international insurance to cover the French side but we were able to use the insurance of Avenir Sportif Club de Sain-Martin thanks to Patrick Trival.
“We highly appreciate the support of all our sponsors who contributed to this success and to the support of Government of St. Maarten and Minister Rodolphe Samuel,” he added.