Port of Spain, Wednesday, June 01, 2011. John Donaldson of Grace Kennedy added CariFin cross country to his growing list of CariFin accolades after winning the Green Mile and Chancellor Challenge in the CariFin Urban Challenge. He was able to keep a single minded focus that brought him his first ever CariFin Championship wins. This took place at Sevilla golf course Couva on Sunday May 29, 2011 – the culminating event of the CariFin Games the 20th Edition. It would have sweeter had he won the title with RBC/RBTT’s Nokosi Mc Leish in the race.
Salisha Julien of RBC/RBTT had little or no challenge on the way to claiming her first cross country title in CariFin Games. This is her 2nd year participating in CariFin and through her consistency and commitment to staying fit and competitiveness she was able to take the number one spot among the female runners in the financial services sector.
Top 5 finishers are: Salisha Julien of RBC/RBTT with a time of 26:52, Crystal Ann Awai of GHL in 29:44, Karen James-Begg of RBC/RBTT in 30:49, Karen Dowden – RBC/RBTT 31:55 and Jeneen Salim of GHL in 33:44.
The supposed Fusion Invasion that was promised by the CBTT Fusion training team never materialized. Female winner for the past two years Crystal Ann Awai of GHL is recovering from a hamstring injury. She only participated for fun and fitness but was unable to provide any real challenge to an in form and fit Julien. During the race she had to rely on the male runners to push her along. When asked about the experience she said, “It felt good to win.”
The male cross country was not a sealed deal for Donaldson. It wasn’t given to him on a platter, he had to work hard for it as Mark Thomas and the debutante from CBTT Akil Simon made sure he was tested. They shared the lead with him from time to time up to the second half of the last lap. The final time indicates a 6 seconds difference between Simon and Donaldson who depended on and used his years of experience in the sport. He outmaneuvered the inexperience of an advancing Simon over the last 250 meters by doing what was absolutely necessary to make sure he wasn’t overtaken at the finish line. Thus, Simon had to settle for 2nd place. The top 5 finishers were John Donaldson, Grace Kennedy in 28.40, Akil Simon – CBTT in 28.46, Mark Thomas of RBL in 31.32, Michael Lucess of RBTT in 31.57 and Clifford Boggle of Bank of Jamaica in 5th place with a time of 32.22.
Four time CariFin cross country winner Nikosi Mc Leish had to sit out this year’s events due to an injury. He was not able to try and set himself apart as being the only quintuple winner of this event. Remember that there are three male runners on 4 straight wins in CariFin cross country. Lander Rodney, Curtis Cox and Nikosi Mc Leish. If he had participated and won he would be the only person to have won this event 5 times straight.
The males had to do 3 laps of the approximately 2.2 k course. When you add it to the piece from the start to where it connects with the course and when you come off the course to where it ends it’s almost an 8K. The female race includes 2 laps of the 2.2K course; add the extra piece at the start and finish and that gave you a 5K approximately.
The walking event or fun walk is an outlet for those who for whatever reason prefer to walk rather than run. This allows them to still experience the CariFin cross country at another level and still share in the uniqueness of the whole cross country event.
The return of Hollis Granville of GHL meant that a lot of the earlier winners from the Urban Challenge had to settle for lesser places in the final analysis. That they did as Granville won convincingly. In second place was a consistent and hard working Deodath Harrikisson of First Citizens.
In the female category Bank of Jamaica athlete Paulette Thompson was an easy winner. She was followed by the First Citizens participant and entrant for Ms. CariFin – Carla Questelle-Forde.
The male cross country run had one of the most exciting finishes of all the races on the day. Naipaul Smith of RBC/RBTT was in the lead with some 300 meters to make up the 50 percent incline, Veteran Harold Begg of RBTT sensed blood. Feeling the inexperience of Smith in the lead he went for the jugular. Building
momentum and closing the gap ever so slowly you hardly noticed the gap being closed. Until finally they were side by side some 15 meters from the finish line. Begg unleashed his final assault for which the inexperienced and unprepared Smith had no answer. This was a classic case of a veteran exponent of the skill of running prevailing over a younger and less experienced runner. . In 3rd place was Stephen Hart.
On the female side Esla Anthony – the Ms. CariFin entrant for Central Bank won this event quite easily, followed by Paulette Thompson of Bank of Jamaica and Laurie Prescott of GHL.
Check website for full results.