Following report taken from The Sentinel, vol 1 issue 14, 28 June 2012
On Saturday 23 June, the Festival of Running 2012 began with a guided tour of the oldest parts of our capital Jamestown, hosted by Mr Basil George of Magma Tours. Originally set to start on 22nd, the walk was postponed due to the late arrival of the RMS.
The Festival of Running saw its creation in 2001 and originally was set as a 2 yearly event organised by National Amateur Sports Association St Helena (NASAS). In 2011 organisation of the festival changed hands and is now hosted by St Helena Tourism. The department has been working on raising the international profile of the event and we took the opportunity to speak to Mike Dean. "We have advertised the festival internationally for the last 12 months," said Dean "only one person has come specifically to participate in the Festival of Running." In previous festivals the line up of runners included several overseas participates. Dean commented, "what we've got to be doing with this time, in the run up to the airport for example, is to build up the awareness of the festival and profile of the event. Once the airport is opened and people can fly here then there will be a lot more interest with people taking part."
The festival has a week long programme set and included a 42 km marathon which started at Francis plain, proceeding through Sandy Bay Ridges, Halley's Mount, Green Hill and Level Wood. The record for this Marathon is held by Errol Duncan who, in 2007, completed the run in just over 4 hours. This time around the fastest time was recorded by Hendrietta Timms, setting a new record for the fastest female, she completed the marathon in 4 hours 27 mins 57 secs.
In the 21km race Stephen Bagley posted a winning time of 2 hours 8 mins and 33 secs, some 28 mins outside of the current record held by overseas competitor Jean-Paul Van Belle.
Tuesday 26th saw 30 plus competitors contest the 3km and 10km Fun Runs. In the 3km event 11 year old Nandeli Pelembe finished first with a time of 20 mins 32secs. "I prefer long distance running to short distance running," said Pelembe, "I was pretty good at this in the UK as well." This is the 3rd long distance race Pelembe has won, he commented, "it's nice to have completed my hat trick." Julian Morris was 2nd clocking a time of 22 mins 22 secs. "The hills here are absolutely brutal," said Morris, "by the time I got to White Gate I didn't know what was going to come out of mouth first, my tongue or my heart." Nandeli's dad, Anselmo Pelembe, finished in 3rd place.
In the longer 10km run Hendrietta Timms made it 2 wins in 2 races, crossing the line in a time of 54 mins. Stephen Bagley finished second in a time of 55 mins 28 secs. Grant Pearson was third just under a minute later with a time of 56 mins 5 secs. Kath Squires who also competed in the 10km race cheekily remarked, "it was quite hard going uphill but lovely coming down, especially in the sun."
The next phase in the Festival of Running will be the Dianas Peak ascent, beginning at the seafront at 9am, today, Thursday.
The Festival comes to a close on Friday 29 June and concludes with the Jacobs Ladder Challenge. The record time of 5 minute 17 seconds and has remained unchallenged since 2007.