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Elite Runners Slated to Start St. Croix International Marathon

Dec. 9, 2005 – V.I. runners participating in this year's St. Croix International Marathon on New Year's Day are going to have some tough competition.
Organizer Wallace Williams says that half a dozen Ethiopians are expected to compete in the first marathon of the year under the U.S. flag. On Friday, Williams said the runners were working on getting their visas. One of the Ethiopians came in second at a New York City Marathon. Wallace added that the local females might also be facing an accomplished runner from Kenya.
This will be the fourth year for the race, but this is the first year that the race has been certified by The Association of International Marathons. Runners will be able to use this run to qualify for major marathons like the Boston marathon.
Williams said he still does not expect a big crowd as he said many of the local athletes prefer the triathlons. However, winners from last year – Steve Burkholder of St. John and Theresa Harper of St. Croix – are both expected to participate. Burkholder won the race last year with a time of 3 hours 15 minutes, bettering his New York City Marathon time by a half hour. Harper has won the St. Croix marathon two years in a row. Her winning time last year was 3:48.
According to Williams, this may be the only road race in the Virgin Islands that offers cash prizes. The top runners in the male and female categories receive a $1,000 each. A total of $5,000 will be given out.
Williams said the V.I. Pace Runners are going to be promoting the marathon more, and one day he said he hopes it will draw thousands of participants. The course, Williams said, "is flat. It is fast and it is scenic."
He said he also hopes the race will start to bring attention to recently renovated Frederiksted. The race starts at Plaza Extra on Queen Mary Highway and goes through Frederiksted and up to Hamm's Bluff. Runners then return to Frederiksted. The race ends at Fort Frederik.
The race, which is open to all runners 18 and older, begins at 5 a.m. For more information on the event logon to
www.virginislandspace.org.

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