The man they call "Coach Nurse" is directing an athletic event aimed at putting St. Thomas on the map along with St. John’s 8 Tuff Miles, or maybe even St. Croix’s 70.3 Ironman Triathlon – the inaugural St. Thomas M2M, Montessori to Magens Bay Race.
Shane DeGannes, athletic director and school nurse for the V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy, is very excited about the St. Thomas race, which starts at 6:30 a.m. Saturday at Montessori.
"As race director, my goal is safety," he said this weekend. "I couldn’t imagine running, wondering what’s going on behind me. I’m a nervous wreck right now," he said. "I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when the last runner is in at Magens."
Actually, DeGannes is very composed for a "nervous wreck," though he is up to his ears in last minute preparations.
"I had thought it would be a smaller thing," he said, "but it’s grown larger than my original vision. I thought in five years or so it might be as big as 8 Tuff Miles, but we have 100 registered already with a week still to go."
DeGannes said, "The idea for something like this is a thing the parents have been speaking about for the longest time, but speaking about it and executing it are two different things." He said he is backed by a strong steering committee : Head of School Michael Bornn, Brad Kappel, Rebecca Waterfall and parent Alison Fleming.
The race course is from Montessori through Red Hook, up Cassi Hill turning a sharp right at the Tabor Harmony road past Hometown Convenience Center and Anna’s Market onto Donoe Bypass and to Wintberg, hard left at ABC Nursery to Magens Bay road to the beach.
DeGannes said the highest point will be 703 feet, as opposed to St. John’s 999 feet. "It’s not as challenging as 8 Tuff Miles," he said.
Since he won’t be running, who does DeGannes think will be first?
"My first guess would be Michael Thompson in about 50 minutes," DeGannes said. “He’s a 24-year old from St. Thomas. He finished ninth in 8 Tuff Miles this year, ahead of me.”
“But I beat him in the Carnival Mile," he added quickly, thus keeping his St. Thomas bona fides intact.
Oh, the only other race DeGannes has missed was the annual Run Against Violence this year when his familial duties called – his five-year-old daughter Devin’s ballet recital.
The M2M entry fee is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Race day registration will begin at 5:45 a.m. Early and online registration is available.
Onsite registration will be offered for an additional cost. All runners and walkers are welcome to participate (no bicycles). A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the V.I. Mothers Against Guns and the American Red Cross of the Virgin Islands.
Permission was granted from the VIMSPGIA to be the start of the race, and approval was obtained to end the race at Magens Bay. The safety of the participants is the primary concern, so this event has been sanctioned by STAR (St. Thomas Association of Road Runners), and the VIPD.
DeGannes said volunteers are still needed. For more information or to volunteer services and/or goods, call DeGannes at 775-6360 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org