Coming off a one-year hiatus the GB X-Treme Half Marathon made its return this past weekend and the Freeport Primary Conquerers were true to their name.
Once again staged at Pirate’s Cove, this past Saturday the marathon designed to test the will and endurance of distance runners, took on a different approach.
Without any individual contestants registered, local schools here on Grand Bahama formed relay teams and were the ones to take on the challenge of the 13.2 mile trek. The course was designed to combine alternate terrains (beach and road) to give the runners the couse challenge.
Once all the runners crossed the finish line, the winners of the primary, junior and senior divisions were announced by Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama and past president of the Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association (GBAAA), Iram Lewis.
The Freeport Primary Conquerors swept the primary school division - winning both the boys and girls categories. While the Conquerors were the sole participants in the girls category, the Maurice Moore Raccoons finished second in the boys’ category.
In the junior division, the Sister Mary Patricia Russell Panthers finished with the gold in the boys division over eventual second place finishers the Jack Hayward Junior Stars. The Stars, as sole participants in the junior girls division, were the gold medal winners.
The St. George’s Jaguars cruised to an easy finish to claim gold among the senior boys. Finishing with the silver medal were the Tabernacle Falcons. The Sunland Stingers took home the bronze medal and rounding out the top four were the Bishop Michael Eldon Warriors.
In the senior girls’ division the Stingers hauled away the gold medals over eventual silver medalists, the St. George’s Jaguars.
No times were officially recorded for the teams. Not only were the schools awarded medals, but each participating school will receive a monetary donation for their participation.
The GB X-Treme is a GBAAA sanctioned event. Newly-elected President of the local association, Pharez Cooper, outlined what made the association utilize high school athletes and noted that there is room for the event to spark a larger interest in cross country events.
“We sat out one year from hosting the event. So this year we decided to bring back the event. We wanted to make sure and get more schools involved in the event because we know in the schools we don’t have a cross country season,” he related.
“We introduced primary school, junior high and high school divisions. This time we think we had a fairly good turnout for the high school and primary school divisions and we appreciate them for coming out.”
Cooper expressed the intent to make adjustments to challenges encountered on the course this past weekend.
“Still, the goal is to get every school to participate, for them to be engaged. Every school that participates, we give back funds. So, we help in giving back to the school to further sport and athletic programmes.”
Cooper further detailed that a half-marathon like the GB X-Treme offers a unique twist, as aforementioned. From his standpoint, the addition of the relay aspect to the race, was a greater incentive for the student-athletes to enjoy themselves as much as possible.
“This event is not like any event that’s on the island. We have a combination of road running and beach running. I think what made it an enthusiastic event was the relay format because we love relays here in the Bahamas. Also, we had the aspect of the beach run.
“So the beach run along with the comradeship, along with the challenge of each school and the rivalries, made it an exciting race. So the challenge was a bit longer as opposed to a track relay. They had opportunities to make up ground which made it a more challenging race.”
Cooper furthered that it is the GBAAA’s desire to diversify the programmes locally and the event is the catalyst for the mission.
“The Bahamas is known for sprints and of course our relays. But, we want to try and diversify our programmes. New Providence - they have cross country. So with Grand Bahama being the “track town” of the country we wanted to introduce this to diversify our programme and we want to bring in field events also.
“This is a part of the GBAAA’s initiative, to be well-rounded in track and field and athletics in the country.
“I think there is room for improvement and once we introduce it (cross country events), kids who have the talent will come out and even some kids who don’t know they have the talent, will come out and have the opportunity to develop,” he concluded.