They came, they saw and they definitely conquered.
The 2016 CariFin Games are now in the books and the duo of Abijah Phillip and Deodath Harrikissoon were the ones standing tallest at the end of the Cross Country event on Sunday evening.
The Cross Country was the main attraction in CariFin’s Family Day at the spacious Sevilla Golf Course, and Phillip and Harrikissoon stepped up to the occasion. The course was no easy one as the competitors had to endure some rugged and hilly terrain before they could make their ways to the finish line. The heavy afternoon downpour would not have helped the runners as they went through the grassy areas of the course either, but they all took up the challenge admirably.
Phillip, who won all the previous running events at this year’s games –One Lap Savannah, Green Mile and Chancellor Challenge- was challenged early in the Cross Country run as Guardian’s Kevon Gomez surged ahead of him. However, Phillip was not unfazed by Gomez’s early burst and he gradually reeled in his competitor as the race went on.
It was a challenging run but I tried to stick to my run, Phillip said after the race. “I didn’t get distracted by (Gomez’s) tactics. I just stuck to my run and it worked out for me.
There were no surprises then when Phillip was the first competitor seen coming up the hill and heading towards the home stretch. The calm Phillip even afforded a bit of a smile as he bent the corner towards the finish line. Phillip finished the race in a time of 27:29, while Gomez finished second in a time 28:08 despite tiring badly. Gomez’s Guardian compatriot, Kris Deonan, finished third in a time of 28:18.
“It was different,” Phillip said in reference to the course. But the Republic Bank employee had taken some runs along the Lady Young Rd in Morvant prior to the course and it seemed to set him in good stead. “Well I actually had to jump over some of the mud but it was difficult. The up and down was really difficult.”
While the men had to make three laps of the 2.2 km course, their female counterparts were required to make two laps. A strong finish from the evergreen Ansa Financial Services’ Christine Regis propelled her into first place with a time of 23:33. Regis was second with less than 300 metres to go, but she was able to find enough gas in her tank to pass Guardian’s Jileta Candace Landeau before entering the home stretch. Landeau finished just six seconds behind Regis while last year’s female Cross Country winner and current aerobics champion Adona Joseph finished third in a time of 25:36.
The Fun Run, which was a less-tasking one lap event, was won by RBL’s Teon Jack. The young Jack sped out ahead of the pack at the beginning of the race and he never opted to look back as he finished the course in a time of 12:30. RBC’s Roger Cupidore finished second in 13:48 while Unit Trust’s Sydel Mollineau finished third in a time of 14:12.
Unit Trust’s Kyrstal Awong was able to bring home the bacon in the female’s Fun Run though, as she won in a time of 17:50. Central Bank’s Karyn Stewart finished second in a time of 18:04 while ANSA’s Annette Richardson finished third in a time of 20:10.
In the Fun Walk, Harrikissoon was able to continue his winning streak as he notched a fourth straight walking triumph. Last year’s female Fun Walk winner, Christine Villafana, excitingly matched Harrikissoon tit-for-tat at the beginning of the race. However, the experienced Harrikissoon was able to pull away from Villafana and the rest of the pack as he strutted to the finish line in a time of 18:41. Guardian’s Christopher Reid finished second in the men’s race in a time of 20:11, while Harrikissoon’s FCB compatriot Neil Juman finished third in the men’s race in a time of 20:48.
Harrikissoon, who goes about his walking races so effortlessly, claims that he has no special techniques for his walking. However, he credits a healthy lifestyle and diet for keeping him in top shape.
I have a kinda motto saying ‘my wealth is my health’ and I live by that,” Harrikissoon said. “I try to eat very healthy. I think about what I eat and as an athlete I look at what I’m eating.
Harrikissoon, who was once a professional boxer, pointed to the usefulness of the CariFin Games in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well. “It helps a lot to relieve some stress because the banking sector is a lot of stress for the employees (…) if a person can do at least half an hour of exercise per day it could relieve a lot of stress and they could be very healthy,” Harrikissoon said.
The Republic Bank ladies ended their games with another dominant walk of their own as they occupied the first four positions in their field. Tessa Weekes copped her second straight walking event with a time of 19:26, which was only bettered by Harrikissoon, while Villafana finished second and fourth overall in a time of 20:37. Keshona and La Toya George rounded off the familiar RBL sweep; walk on ladies.