Marathon champ Paul Schmidt (left) checking in on Jean Habarurema’s injured hamstring. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
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Jean Habarurema was finally defeated – by his own right leg to boot.
German distance runner Paul Schmidt has his first ever victory in the Run Barbados series, having taken advantage of the defending champ’s untimely hamstring injury to win yesterday’s Cave Shepherd marathon.
Trailing the Frenchman for all but the last six miles of the 26-mile, two-lap Bay Street to Paynes Bay course, Schmidt passed the hobbled Habarurema on the final Spring Garden leg before winning in two hours, 36 minutes and 13.99 seconds.
Despite coming to a full stop to clutch his right hamstring on four occasions, Habarurema (2:43.22) still managed to complete the course and finish second, well ahead of Britain’s David Major (2:58.59).
It ended a three-race victory streak in the series for the diminutive runner from Martinique, who won both the marathon and 10K last year, before successfully defending his 10K crown on Saturday.
And he looked well on course for another double, having led Schmidt by as many as 400 metres after setting a blistering pace just behind half-marathon leaders Santiago Zerda, Kirk Brown and Jason Wilson.
But Schmidt did well to always keep Habarurema in his sights, and then he ultimately made a move on the Frenchman going down the long stretch of Spring Garden.
“I tried to get down the hill fast and get some wind. As I saw him closer I really felt better and then I tried to keep my pace,” explained Schmidt.
“In the beginning he went really hard and I guess he won the 10K earlier but I saw he didn’t drink a lot so I just tried to get through the heat and concentrate on drinking, and then I realised he wasn’t able to get far away.
Schmidt eventually caught and passed him along Brandon’s beach, then turned on the jets when he realised Habarurema couldn’t respond.
The Frenchman quickly lost sight of Schmidt after continually clutching his right leg and being forced to stretch out the muscle.
“I think I made a mistake because I wanted to push from 33K out, but I was trying to push too much,” said Habarurema.
“The pace was not high but rather easy so unfortunately I tried to push to make up for that. I was not worried and feeling very comfortable, but these things can happen in a marathon.”
Martinique’s Felix Fanja also powered through for her first win of the festival, comfortably taking the women’s event in 3:03.46 just before Andrew Brathwaite (3:18.03) was the first local finisher to cross the line in seventh place.
Britain’s Tracey West (3:20.14) was second and early women’s race leader Carolyn Murray (3:30.14) of Canada finished third. (JM)