Three of the top V.I. National Track and Field Team members will be competing in the region this weekend.
Ruth Ann David has competed as a member longer than any other female. Those races include two medal-winning performances in the CAC Cross-Country Championships in Bermuda, West Indies; Acapulco, Mexico; NACAC Cross-Country Championships in Trinidad and Tobago; NACAC Road Race Series in Colombia, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten; and in her high school days, she ran the Carnival Mile and the McDonalds’ Half-Marathon (now the V.I. Half-Marathon Championships).
She was a member of the Virgin Islands team at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in 2004 in Brussels, Belgium, and she is the current V.I. National Half-Marathon Champion. As a master’s runner, she continues to dominate the local scene against runners of all ages, with very strong performances. She has competed in the 8 Tuff Miles Road Race at least “10-13 times… and can’t remember how many times she has won the race.”
One would be hard pressed to remember her ever not winning or finishing in the top two women; in fact, she was usually in the top overall finish with men and women in the race. On one occasion, she was the defending champion of 8 Tuff Miles and missed the entry deadline. It worked out in her favor as the VITFF secured her a spot in the Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon where she took second place over a field of thousands.
The 8 Tuff Miles now conflicts with the NACAC Cup World’s Best 10K in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where, as one of the top female long distance runners in the Caribbean, she has been selected by the VITFF to officially represent the V.I. in that event on Sunday. The event attracts a field of over 10,000 runners, the fastest runners in the world, and claims the world record for the women’s 10K.
V.I. National Track and Field team member Shane Degannes was also selected to represent the V.I. in San Juan, but she decided to improve on last year’s St. John effort instead. Along with Evan Jones, they both won their age groups in the 8 Tuff Miles from Cruz Bay to Coal Bay. Jones, a member of the 2016 V.I. CARIFTA Junior Team took first in his age-group and fifth place overall on Saturday with a time of 55:14 over an unusual course that directly climbs from near sea level to its peak and directly drops to near sea level.
The effort should solidify his spot on the 2017 CARIFTA team, which will compete on Curacao on Easter weekend. He will most likely be running the 5000m. Shane Degannes, the top master male runner in the V.I., finished tenth overall in the race and first in his age-group with a time of 57:54. Degannes is also Jones’ coach.
The VITFF has helped secure a spot in the Rotterdam Marathon in Holland in April for Eduardo Garcia, the V.I.’s top long distance runner. Garcia, who just completed four years at NCAA championship University of Florida, has recently had very strong performances on the road with the immediate objective to have a successful first marathon at Rotterdam and qualify for the IAAF World Championships in London in August. His goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games Marathon in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020. His next race will be the Jacksonville 15K, which is the USA National Championships.