Jan. 2, 2006 — The Fifth St. Croix International Marathon (Millennium Marathon) made history on Monday, being the world's first marathon to be run this year. However, that wasn't the only noteworthy occurrence, as V.I. runners made some history of their own.
Three very good marathon runners — Pamenos Ballantyne of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and the top marathon runner in the Caribbean; Billy Bohlke, the top marathon runner in the Virgin Islands; and Jose Rodriquez, the winner of the 2006 Virgin Islands Half-Marathon-Race Against Drugs in St. Croix on Thanksgiving weekend — ran stride-for-stride for the first 16 miles of Monday's race.
The bright moon, overcast skies and flat course made the conditions as ideal as possible for marathon running in a subtropical environment.
The competition between the lead runners, as they demonstrated the basic beauty of marathon-running mechanics, was as good as it gets. Ballantyne, a sub 2:20 marathoner, used the race as a final tuneup for the Trinidad Marathon later in the month, which he has won seven times and is the defending champion.
At the 18-mile point, as the race turned around at Fort Frederik for a second trip to Hamms Bluff and back, Ballantyne broke away from Bohlke to win in 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 28 seconds — the fastest marathon time ever run in the Virgin Islands. Bohlke — who hasn't had the opportunity to train much since the marathon at the CAC Games in Cartagena, Colombia (which was run under extreme conditions) and returning home a week ago after serving the past five months as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan — looked very good and finished second in 2:50.25, the fastest marathon ever run by a V.I. runner on a V.I. course.
Jose Rodriquez finished third in 2:55.20 after taking third in the Guadeloupe Marathon in Puerto Rico less than a month ago.
Ernest Mitchell, a V.I. National Team Masters runner, was fourth in 3:22.50; Richard Jeanpierre of HOVENSA masters, was fifth in 4:00.15; Lloyd Henry of the Virgin Islands was sixth in 4:15.35; and Charles Martin of the Virgin Islands was seventh in 4:56.15.
Theresa Harper eased into the running early in the race on one of the most beautiful courses in the world as she chased Ruth Ann David, who was running her first marathon and who actually led the race as she crossed the mile mark in 5 minutes, 33 seconds. That pace would eventually jeopardize her race by forcing her to the emergency room for recovery. Harper won the race for the third year in a row with a record 3:40.21, the fastest marathon ever run by a female on a V.I. course.
Sanctioned by the V.I. Track and Field Federation and affiliated with the Association of International Marathons (AIMS), the race was sponsored by the West Indies Corp., Gatorade and Aquafina, Plaza Extra, Attorney Joel Holt with support from Bohlke International Airways, HH Tire, Oliver Exterminating and Carib Dynamics.
The 5th St. Croix International Marathon is dedicated to Larry Williams, a longtime supporter of the race.
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