Angel Morales, president of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, extended his annual invitation to the V.I. community to support the Olympic movement by participating in the annual Olympic Day runs on St. Croix and St. Thomas. The VI Pace Runners’ 32nd St. Croix Olympic Day Run took place on Sunday, June 24.
On St. Croix “It was like the rain decided to take a break so the 32nd running of the event could happen,” one of the few dozen participants was heard saying. Indeed, Saturday was a special day as runners and walkers representing V.I. Olympic Committee Federations — including track and field, swimming, triathlon and bowling — had fun challenging the mile run in what is called the “magic of the mile” with a series of mile runs designated in groups for 20-minute, 15-minute, 10-minute, 7- minute and 6-minute performance levels.
It showcased some of the territory’s best current and past athletes as middle-distance runner Malique Smith, track and field (TF), who has represented the V.I. several times at CARIFTA Junior Championships and will be in Colombia next month for the CAC Games, showed how the mile run is done when he went to the lead from the start to clock 4:39 on the newly-surfaced track at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School. Second place went to veteran multiple V.I. national record holder Billy Bohlke (TF) with his parents there like they have been since he was a kid running this event to cheer him on. The 38-year-old Bohlke clocked the distance in 5:01; Makari Mathew (TF) was third fastest of the day in 5:26; Mikaela Smith (TF) finished fourth in that group and was the fastest female of the day in 5:34. In a very close race, Randall Nielsen (TF) was the fourth male in 5:40; 14-year-old Brice Richarda (TF) was the fifth male in 5:41; Bridget Klein (TF) was the second female in 5:48; Rodney Griffin (TF) was the sixth male in 6:10; Rachael Conhoff (TF) was the third female in 6:26.
Michelle Smith (TF), who had just turned 12, led this group in what was the most exciting race of the day as she battled it out with 11-year-old Kaedon Gleason (TF), running it in 5:41; Gleason was the first male in 5:48; Mike Klein (TF) and ultra V.I. champion was second male and third overall in 6:45; 62-year-old Barrymore Berley was third in 6:51; Stephanie Mathew (TF) was the second female in 7:05; 11-year-old Akilya Joseph (TF) was third in 7:11; 10-year-old Amiyah Eddie (TF) was fourth in 9:13; 9-year-old Jimiah JnoBaptiste (TF) was fifth in 11:54.
Keith Smith (TF) led the way in 6:54; Amani Estrill was second in 7:06; Mireille Smith (TF) was the first female and third overall in 7:16; Alex Joseph (TF) was the third male in 7:19; 10-year-old Malia Richards (TF) was the second female in 9:26.
Youths prevailed in this group as 9-year-old Loren Jones (TF) was the first of four females to place in the overall finish with a time of 8:05; her sister, 8-year-old Katlyn Jones (TF), was second in 8:16; Rachel Conoff (TF) was third in 8:40; Theresa Harper (triathlon) was fourth in 9:05; Scott Fricks (triathlon) was the first male in 9:06; Jimiah JnoBaptiste (TF) was the fifth female in 10:05; Natakie Richards (TF) was sixth in 10:14; 9- year-old Ajhi Bricoe was the second male in 10:19; Teague Gleason (TF) was third in 10:35; Samantha Jones (TF) was seventh female in 11:02; 6-year-old Sanay (swimming) was the third male in 12:33; Ana Gutierrez (TF) was eighth female in 12:35; Ray Lutz (TF) was the fourth male in 12:47.
This group made up of walkers and runners saw 6-year-old Conner Huston take first in 10:14; his father, Jan Huston, was second in 10:16; Adriel Sanes (swimming) was third in 11:10; Shelia Gumbs (TF) was the first female in 11:16; C. Louby (TF) was the second female in 12:17; Ray Lutz (TF) was the fourth male in 12:54; Willie Lewis (TF) was the fifth male in 13:02; Ronald Russell (TF) was the sixth male in 13:49; Gailann Joseph was the third female in 14:25; Webster Buzzo was the seventh male in 17:25; Mathew Mays (swimming) was the eighth male in 17:26; Laylole Washasha (swimming) was the fourth female in 17:38; Lidia Boguslaw (swimming) was the fifth female in 17:40; Brian Brady (swimming) was the ninth male in 17:42.
1] Olympic Day is celebrated all around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, get moving and participate in sporting and cultural activities, such as runs, exhibitions, music and educational seminars.
Olympic Day was introduced in 1948 to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games on June 23, 1894. The goal was to promote participation in sports across the globe regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. Over the last two decades, the event has helped to spread the Olympic ideals to every corner of the world.
The event is hosted by the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee for the International Olympic Committee and organized by the Virgin Islands Pace Runners on St. Croix and the St. Thomas Association of Road Runners on St. Thomas.
2] V.I. Olympians participating in the St. Croix event were: Ana Gutierrez 1992 Barcelona Track and Field Marathon; Keith Smith 1992 Barcelona Track and Field, 4 x 400m Relay; Jodie Lawaetz-Mays 1984 Los Angles Swimming, 100m/200m Butterfly; Wallace Williams (event director) 1988 Seoul Track and Field Marathon; Ronald Russell 1976/1984 Montreal and Los Angles Track and Field 100m
3] Youth Olympic Games 2018 team member Mikaela Smith participated.
4] Wallace Williams, who has coordinated Olympic Day and/or participated as a runner in it each of the 32 years for St. Croix, said the event has had at least seven formats including the following:
• “Originally several of us carried an Olympic style torch from McDonald’s in Golden Rock on St. Croix on a route through Christiansted National Historic Site on to McDonald’s Villa La Rein on Saturday morning.”
• “After several years we moved to Frederiksted and ran a 2-mile out-and-back road course along the shore to the north from historic Fort Frederik.”
• “After that we took the run to the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix Campus for many years for a 2mile loop on the grass.”
• “On at least two occasions special venues were designated for V.I. Olympic celebrations to coincide with Olympic Day: a start/finish at the fort in the Christiansted National Historic Site and once on the golf course at Carambola.”
• “Twice on the Christiansted Bypass (2016-17)”
• “The introduction of The Magic of the Mile format on the track at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School”
• The events are free of charge, each participant receives a special Olympic T-shirt, certificate and McDonald’s (international sponsor) promotional items.
• Traditionally there are two runs: one on or about June 23 on Saturday on St. Croix, followed the next day with the St. Thomas Run (on a few occasions the run has be held in St. John instead of St. Thomas). Most of the St. Thomas runs were held on the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie and at Magens Bay.
• Federation officials participating on Saturday were: Scott Fricks, president of the Virgin Islands Triathlon Federation; Theresa Harper, secretary Virgin Islands Triathlon Federation; Jodie Lawaetz of the Virgin Islands Swimming Federation; Sydney Paul of the Bowling Federation; Ronald Russell, president of the Virgin Islands Track and Field Federation (VITFF); and Wallace Williams, general secretary of the VITFF.
• Thanks go to the St. Croix Educational Complex High School and the V.I. Department of Education for providing access to the track and field facilities.
• Thanks go to the participants and volunteers who made the event in spite of weather warnings.