June 3, 2007– The community Sunday showed its continuing support for the St. Croix Women's Coalition's effort to stop domestic violence, as close to 500 women and girls ran or walked in the 23rd annual Women Race.
The race started at Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted and weaved its way through two miles of city streets and ended where it began.
The winner was 16-year-old Ninfa Barnard, a student at Educational Complex High School. She finished in 12 minutes, 2.1 seconds.
The one participant who received the most applause, however, was Margery Tonks, who finished 52 minutes after she started.
But every one in the crowd thought that was pretty good for an 89-year-old. She walked with her daughter, and her granddaughter ran.
Her daughter, Marilyn Tonks, said, "My mother has participated in 20 races and missed only a couple years." Emmy Thomas said, "They have to add age categories for Margery; next year there will be 90 years and up."
Thomas placed third in her age group 70 to 79.
Females were not the only ones who showed their support. Many males were around the finish line cheering the women across.
One participant, Kate Kroska, said she thought the race should be open to males. She said, "There are a lot of men that support and believe in domestic harmony."
A unique feature of this year's race was the St Croix Clothesline Project, with more than 30 shirts hung on a clothesline on the Christiansted Green. Victims of abuse were given the opportunity to create a shirt and express their feelings by writing or drawing on the shirt.
Lynn Spenser, executive director of V.I. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council, said, "The shirts are a very valuable tool helping people overcome being a victim. It is a chance for the victims to talk about their situation."
Mary Mingus, co-director of Women's Coalition, said, "I am grateful for the support we received for this event. I am thrilled to have so many teams and so much community involvement in the race helping the Women's Coalition. Almost all of the women's shelter residents and children are in the race." Mingus went on to say, "They are running for peace and justice."
The fist race was organized 22 years ago by Olympic marathon runner and Women Race Director Wallace Williams. Williams took a gamble and had 100 people show up to race in 1985.
Artist Jerry Taylor of T.F. Treasures designed sterling silver running shoes for the first-, second- and third-place winners. Isabelle Picard designed the T-shirts that each entrant received.
Major sponsors received a set of handmade ceramic running shoes created by Sara Hayes.
Major sponsors were Sonya, LTD, H.H. Tire and Battery, James River Capital, Bank of St. Croix, AARP, Hovensa, ADT, Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association and Denali Management. There were also numerous supporting and contributing sponsors.
The team coming in first was Country Day School. Last year's first-place winner, Erica Sweitzer, came in second this year; and Mireille Smith came in third. Elizabeth Armstrong and daughter, Charlotte, came in first for the stroller division.
Judith Crumbs brought up the rear as the caboose.
Complete race results can be found here.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.