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Bid to end 10K drought

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Bid to end 10K drought

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Maybe this is the year for that big Bajan breakthrough.

Local athletes will be gunning for that ever elusive 10K victory today when the 35th edition of the Run Barbados series gets into high gear at the Bay Street Esplanade.

The 5K is also scheduled for this evening at the same venue but it’s the 10K that will draw most of the attention, considering that no Barbadian runner has ever won it.

As a matter of fact, no athlete from this region has ever tasted glory in the festival’s longest running race, which was on the programme since inception and has never been dropped.

And that streak doesn’t look likely to end today either, as defending champ Jean Habararema of Martinique returns as the heavy race favourite in a strong international field.

Habararema announced himself to the series last year by becoming one of the few men to defeat a Kenyan in the event.Initially setting a blistering pace alongside Stephen Tanui, the Frenchman left the Kenyan in his wake going up Broad Street to win by almost a half of a minute.

Tanui hasn’t returned for the event, and neither has perennial contender Matt Loiselle of Canada. Barbados will be without their top finisher from last year, national triathlete Matthew Wright.

That means most of the hosts’ hopes rests with a couple of 21-year-olds. Talented distance runners Joshua Hunte and Dario Grandison are set to lead the home challenge that will include Olympic triathlete Jason Wilson, Jerome Blackett and Ibrahim Hinds.

Hunte is the Barbadian who has come closest to breaking the streak by placing second to French national champ and Olympian Nicolas Fernandez in 2015.

Wilson, 27, finished third that year, as part of a three-man group with Hunte and Fernandez that broke away from the rest of the pack very early on.

Grandison has the distinction of winning an event in the series after crossing the line first in one of the initial Fun Mile races. He also boasts of a Joseph Payne 5K victory but likely won’t have the class to challenge the likes of Habararema over this distance.

Barbados isn’t expected to mount much of a challenge on the women’s side, especially considering that last year’s winner Tonya Nero of Trinidad and Canadian Olympians Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak are entered.

The Canadian duo will be looking for revenge after Nero spoiled their series debut in 2016 by catching them unawares and running past them at the line when they were busy celebrating. (JM)