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MARATHON BAHAMAS EVENT SOARING ON SPIRIT AIRLINES

 

Marathon Bahamas 2010 was a blockbuster of an event. The race revitalized distance running in the country. It established The Bahamas for the very first time as a role player in the big world picture of marathon running.

The initial product did not attract the cream of the crop world runners, but it put the word out. It was like a testing ground. Participants came from all over North America and Europe. There were some 300 entrants, local and foreign and the event has taken off in a wonderful way.

Accordingly major entities like Spirit Airlines have remained on board for the second version of the sports/social bonanza event. The Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas weekend, culminating with the race on January 16, 2011, is well on the way, I think, to becoming the kind of fixture that will in the very near future be included in the schedules of the world’s best runners.

“Spirit is looking forward to once again supporting Marathon Bahamas and the efforts to promote tourism and athletics in The Bahamas, and I am personally looking forward to running in the 2011 race,” said the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Ben Baldanza, recently.

The excitement is building as the Marathon Bahamas Board heightens the promotional push towards the fun/competition weekend in January. Several big promotions are planned, in particular, a radio remote on Bay Street around December 12.

Expected to be in attendance is the reigning Marathon Bahamas Champion, our very own Delroy Boothe. The Grand Bahama native is the national record holder for the marathon at 2:34.49 officially. He represents an interesting dimension for 2011. For Marathon One, the focus was generally on getting the event organized and coordinated successfully.

This was done, certainly.

Although the competition was featured, the aura of the overall event sort of upstaged the actually competition. When Boothe entered the history book by ensuring that The Bahamas will always be able to claim the first champion, he created a talking point for the future.

This time around, conversation pieces are centered more on the actual race.

Who will win?

Will Boothe successfully defend?

Will this second running extravaganza attract a few runners who will challenge Boothe quite strenuously for the championship?

Will the pedestrian time of 2:59.00 be good enough for victory in 2011?

I would be surprised if the winning time isn’t in fact lowered. Boothe for his part is very serious about the defense of the Marathon Bahamas title. This past week, while in Freeport, I chatted with him. He is scheduled to compete in Florida this week as he gears up for January 16.

“I want to prove that I’m not just a one-time fluke. I won the race in January legitimately. Nobody thought about me. Even though I hold the national record, my name wasn’t mentioned. But, I won. I would have liked a better time but the course proved very difficult in parts and presented challenges for all of the runners. The main thing though is that I came out ahead.”

“I expect to do the same thing next year. I know though, that I have to run competitively, more this time. I am going into Florida to compete one more time and then concentrate on maintaining form and conditioning for the big race,” Boothe said.

He has the spirit.

Whether his leg and stamina hold up is another matter.

Nevertheless, he is now part of the marathon topic. As the defending champion he has earned the spotlight. A delegation from the Second City is expected to be on hand to cheer on the native son of Grand Bahama.

Best wishes to Boothe and the entire field.

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