86.8 F
Cruz Bay
Saturday, December 9, 2023


On Wednesday morning 40 marathon runners, including a few Olympians, converged on Magens Bay to race a few miles together.
The group, mostly from Germany, have been running every chance they get while on a cruise on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Explorer of the Seas. For some this was the fifth time they had run on St. Thomas, said Manfred Steffnys, the group's organizer and publisher of the German runners magazine Spiridon.
According to Karl-Heinz Mölich, a spokesman for the group—and one of two runners in the group from Switzerland— Steffnys is one of the most famous marathon runners in Germany.
Steffnys, now 59, came in 17th in the Mexico City Olympic marathon in 1968 and placed 31st four years later in Munich. His magazine is named after Spiridon Lewis, a shepherd by trade, who won the first Olympic marathon in 1896 for his country—Greece—where it was held.
Others in the group are also well known in running circles, Mölich said, such at Björn Gross who has set "crazy world records," like climbing stairs in a Chicago skyscraper for 100 hours, or running 100 miles.
"There are several here who have run 100 miles," he said, sweeping his arm toward the group that was milling about waiting to begin the race.
On Tuesday the group ran 9.5 kilometers—just under six miles— in San Juan's Condado area.
According to Steffnys they will do a "fun run" on Paradise Island Thursday when they reach Nassau in the Bahamas.
"We get in too late to do a full race," he said. But that doesn't usually stop them. "Every day we have a race with a different character from a beach to the ship.
"This island is hot, " so the race was short—four miles out Peterborg Point, Steffnys said. But despite the heat, the beauty remains with him. "When you are running you may not concentrate on it, but it's there, it's stays there," he said, pointing to his head.
The sprinters in the group have competed during the cruise in a 320 meter race onboard the Explorer, which recently made its first stop in St. Thomas. The Explorer, which is 1,020 feet long, has a running track, much to the delight of the group.
Steffnys limits his travel groups to 40, "so we can all get into one bus. It makes it less complicated."
His hope is that the next time they come they will be able to entice some Virgin Islands runners to race with them. "Next year," he said.

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