November 13, 2009
SVG hosts OECS Half Marathon this Sunday

The 26th edition of the NEWMWIL, now Guardian General Insurance / National Lotteries Authority Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Half Marathon, runs off this Sunday from 3 p.m. at Spring on the north eastern side of the island and ends at the Coreas/ Hazells Inc. building on Bay Street in Kingstown.{{more}}

Head of the local Road Racing Committee of Team Athletics SVG, Leroy Llewellyn, the host association of the sub regional event, told SEARCHLIGHT that the athletes would use the New Argyle Road route, follow the main Windward Highway, to the Sion Hill Intersection then proceed via the Cane Garden Road, through Long Wall, then along Bay Street, to the finish line.

He is anticipating “a well organised and a very competitive race”.

“We want to make this the biggest and the best,” Llewellyn added.

He said he is eagerly looking forward to the clash between nine-times winner, Vincentian Pamenos Ballantyne, and St. Lucian Zepherinus Joseph, who has recorded a quartet of consecutive wins from 2005 to 2008.

Apart from the two, St. Lucian veteran road athlete Victor Ledger and Trinidadian Curtis Cox are expected to provide the top field, Llewellyn noted.

Cox placed second when the race was held in St. Lucia last year.

Also expected in is Guyanese Lionel D’Andrade.

In the 2008 race, Ballantyne placed fourth in a time of 1 hour 30 minutes: 07:92 seconds. In 2007 in St. Kitts he posted a time of 1 hour 18 minutes 13 seconds to finish behind Joseph and Ledgers.

In his latest outing over the same 13.1 miles, run November 1, at the UWI SPEC sixth edition, Ballantyne’s time was one hour 13 minutes 14 seconds, for ninth place.

But Ballantyne will have history on his side since when the event was last staged here in 2002, he crossed the tape first. Ballantyne holds the sub regional race record of 1 hour, seven minutes three seconds, achieved in St. Lucia in 1997.

Also carrying the torch and hopes for St. Vincent and the Grenadines is current top local female road runner Lisa Daniel.

The Road Racing Committee chairman disclosed that the winner of this Sunday’s race in both the male open and female open categories will pocket US $1,000.

The second place in each category gets $700, third place $500, fourth place US $300 and fifth place US $200.

Llewellyn added that in the veterans’ category for athletes over the age of 40, the winners will take home US $300, second place US $200 and third US $100.

In addition, the oldest male and female finishers get US$ 100 and a trophy.

Llewellyn is urging the local public to line the route and give support to the home athletes as well as the visitors.

“We plan to drape a vehicle with the national flag of the competing countries to follow their respective athletes, an innovation never done here before in road racing,” Llewellyn said.

Llewellyn also noted that the four-member band Klassic Groovers will soothe the athletes with their musical repertoire.

Llewellyn is hopeful that the series of local 5K races that preceded this Sunday’s race canvassed some support.

“We are expecting about 50 athletes to compete and that will be good for us,” Llewellyn added.

He was quick to note that only persons over the age of 15 years would be allowed to compete.

Last year 24 persons started the race and 20 finished.