You’re out of luck if you planned to sign up for St. John’s 16th annual 8 Tuff Miles race on Saturday. “It’s filled up and has been for a month,” according to committee member Jeff Miller.
This year, the organizers capped the number of participants at 1,100. However, Miller said that if would-be participants know someone who signed up but doesn’t plan to use the slot, a transfer is possible.
Last year, 881 people crossed the finish line at the Coral Bay ballfield.
The race begins at 7:15 a.m. at the V.I. National Park ballfield in Cruz Bay. It runs 8.375 miles up the road past the Boulon Center to Centerline Road and on to Coral Bay.
There are plenty of spots along the way for spectators to gather and cheer the racers on. Miller suggested the area where Gifft Hill Road meets Centerline, the Bordeaux overlook and the area where King Hill Road meets Centerline Road because they tend to be wider spots on the route.
“Those are the best vantage points,” he said.
Miller said he expects a contingent from Cincinnati to participate again this year. Last year’s top two male finishers both hail from that area.
Last year’s men’s winner, Chris Reis, beat the old course record by 26 seconds with a time of 46 minutes. Court Lily was second.
Last year’s third-place finisher, St. John resident Jeremy Zuber, who’s won the race numerous times, will be on hand to challenge the event’s best runners.
“Jeremy is in great shape,” Miller said, adding that he expects a “very fast” race.
The flat area in Susannaberg will give the runners a chance to pick up speed, Miller said, but they’ll have to “slog” the last uphill from Reef Bay to Bordeaux.
From Bordeaux, it’s all downhill to Coral Bay.
St. Thomas resident Ruth Ann David was the fastest woman in 2011 with a time of 57 minutes and 39 seconds. Former St. Croix resident Letitia Dusich was second, and Delene Jewett of Seattle third.
Dusich set the women’s course record in 2004 with a time of 57 minutes and 15 seconds.
The 8 Tuff Miles race wraps up with an awards ceremony at Mongoose Junction shopping center in Cruz Bay. It begins at 3:30 p.m.
“It’s kind of like a block party,” Miller said, noting that the organizers plan to roast two pigs.
Miller said 8 Tuff Miles is a great community event because older people, younger people and a cross-section of the St. John community participate and support the race.
He also said it generates a lot of business for St. John villas and car rental companies because so many people come from off-island to participate, bringing family and friends.
Scholarships are awarded to youths who win in their age groups, Miller said. The money is held in a trust until the students are ready for college.
The 8 Tuff Miles also raises money for various St. John organizations.
For more information, visit www.8tuffmiles.com.