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VACATIONING TEEN WINS TUFF RACE IN RECORD TIME

Feb. 23, 2002 – A teen-ager from Evergreen, Colorado, crossed the finish line first at Saturday's 7th annual PowerAde 8 Tuff Miles Race on St. John and set a new course record in the process.
Austin Thompson, 16, made the 8 3/8-mile run from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay in 54:53, snapping 36 seconds off St. Croix chiropractor Marlon Williams' old course record of 55:29.
Williams, who was the 2002 winner, came in second this year with a time of 56:28.
Thompson, a high school runner, is on island vacationing with his family at Gallows Point Resort. He said he learned about the race while on a Low Key Watersports diving trip.
"8 Tuff Miles is an understatement," he said, although he seemed barely winded after crossing the finish line at the Coral Bay Ballfield.
Williams, 45, said he was happy to see youths such as Thompson come out for the race. He said he had just returned from Salt Lake City, himself, and was suffering from jet lag and hadn't yet acclimated to the island's warmer climate. However, he said he was happy to race for the fun of it.
Third place in the men's division with a time of 56:42 was Kevin Chipman, a bartender at Chloe and Bernard restaurant at the Westin Resort. "It was tough, especially for the first mile," he said, relaxing on the grass after the race. He said he had trained for the race and ran the course last Sunday to get used to it.
Regina Randazza, 28, a fashion designer who lives on St. John, repeated her 2001 first-place finish in the women's division. Finishing right up there with the fastest men, she crossed the finish line in 59:03. "The course is very hard, but I trained on the hills," she said.
Second place in the women's division went to Claire Gadrow, 34, an accountant from South Kingston, Rhode Island, who had a time of 1:03:18. She said she was not accustomed to the hills and had to make up two minutes on the downhill run from Bordeaux to Coral Bay. "I just sprinted," she said. She said she had just missed the 8 Tuff Miles race on previous trips to St. John, so this year she planned her visit to coincide with the event.
St. Croix attorney Rachel Witty, 30, placed third in her first 8 Tuff Miles race. "I'm satisfied," she said.
The event itself set a record: a massive turnout of 356 participants, up from last year's 239.
While the top finishers got the glory, many of those who ran, jogged or walked the up-hill-and-down-dale course took satisfaction in just getting across the finish line.
"We're all celebrating life. I hope to be doing this till I'm 110," St. John video rental store owner Catherine Fahy, 52, said. She ran the course with her sister, Terez Fahy, 49.
St. John construction manager Bob Hart, 51, suffered leg cramps coming down hill and had ankle trouble. Limping across the finish line, he allowed that if he had trained even a little, the course would have been easier. "I didn't run 50 feet before," he said.
Mary Lambert, 36, the principal at St. John Christian Academy, also made the run without having trained. She said this was her third time jogging the race, but she wanted to see if she could improve. "Last year, I talked most of the time," she said of her trek along the course.
St. John resident Patty Mahoney, 57, is recent convert to the benefits of exercise. She said she started working out at the gym in July. While she walked the course three years ago, this was her first time running. "I wanted to train and do it right," she said.
For many people, the race was a chance to visit with friends and enjoy a morning out. However, St. John resident Ernest Matthias and his wife, Donna, had another purpose. Matthias pushed their daughter Seala, 6 ½ months old, in a stroller in memory of their daughter Skyla, who died at birth.
Matthias said Seala was a trouper as he made his way along the course. "I had to stop and give her some company," he said, "and halfway down Bordeaux, she took a nap." The applause woke her as they neared the finish line.
Peter Alter, who organized the event, carried the American flag along the course. He said he saw it done when he ran the New York City Marathon in November and wanted to bring that emotion to this race.

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