MONTEGO BAY, St James — Rupert Green won the men's section for the first time and Edwin Allen High schoolgirl Marleena Eubanks made it three in a row on the female side as they won respective titles at Sunday's Burger King Montego Bay 7-K road race that marked the start of the four-event grand prix season.
Race organiser Alfred Francis described the event as the "largest we have ever had in Montego Bay and, at the last check, we had passed the 400 mark in entries and was heading for 500".
Green, who last ran in Montego Bay when the event was run over 10 kilometres, won in an impressive 23 minutes 03 seconds on what he described as "heavy legs", while Kirk Brown, who was third last year, moved up a spot for second in 23 minutes 19 seconds, and early race leader Damion Bent was third in 23 minutes 27 seconds.
Eubanks, who appeared to be fully spent and had to be helped to the medical tent after she collapsed just after crossing the finish line, clocked 28 minutes and 31 seconds, beating Holmwood Technical's Shanieke Watson (28 minutes and 38 seconds) and Vere Technical's Britney Dixon, who was third in 29 minutes.
Green, who missed the last two stagings of the event, told the Jamaica Observer he was happy to be back on a winning note and said this was a part of his preparation for the Reggae Marathon to be held in Negril in December.
"I can't complain about the time," he said, "my legs are very heavy and I am not really ready for a 7K. This is my background training and I am preparing for the Reggae Marathon."
Green started the race slowly, saying he was well back in the pack at the start.
"I was in about 10th place after the first kilo, but took my time as I know it was only a matter of time before I caught the leader, but then caught him just after 3K. I took the initiative to set the pace, and when he did not respond I just decided to run my own race," he said.
Bellefield High won the boys' high schools section with 47 points, while Edwin Allen High took the girls' section with 45 points.
St Jago High were second in the boys' section followed by Holmwood Technical, Kellits High, and Edwin Allen.
St Jago were second in the girls section ahead of Hydel High, Vere Technical, and Holmwood Technical.
Francis was pleased with the day's performances, saying "this is a good start to this half of the road race series". "We have been enjoying a fantastic road race calendar all year, and this is may be our 14th event. Bbut this is the opening for the schools as they start their preparation for their background work for the upcoming track and field season," he said.
The series will continue with two events in Portmore — a 10K road race, then a 4x1500m relay, then the Reggae Marathon, after which the individual and team champions will be named.