Runners, walkers and joggers of all ages – 68 in all ranging from three to 79 years old – took part Saturday in the 27th annual Olympic Day Run on St. Croix.
Individuals, families, track teams, a hiking club, parochial school students, tae kwon do students, health enthusiasts and V.I. Olympic Committee members did four laps around the track at St. Croix Educational Complex.
Three-year-old Charlotte Beck said her legs were tired, but she was bribed by Paige Autry, from Free Will Baptist school, with strawberry ice cream to keep going. And slim and trim 79-year-old Louis Hamrick barely broke a sweat, running in the 15-minute mile group.
Louis Hamrick was running with his wife Barbara and nine other family members covering three generations from Morgantown, W.Va., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Brian Hamrick said the family always looks for something fun and interesting to do on vacation. Louis Hamrick, a seasoned runner, said the family hit it lucky to take part in the event.
They also were lucky to have good weather for the mile run around the track. A rainbow even came into view.
V.I. Olympic Committee President Angel Morales, said walkers were added to the race last year to open it up to more people. The committee has sponsored the race since 1987.
The walkers started the race, followed by the 15-minute mile group. A 10-minute mile group went next, then the seven- and the six-minute mile groups finished up.
The winner of the the six-minute mile race was Malique Smith, from the Mustang Track Club, finishing in a time of 5 minutes, 4 seconds. Aaron Hamrick came in second at 5:17, and Rodney Griffin, also from the Mustangs, took third with 5:21.
Aaron Hamrick said the race would be very memorable for him.
Mikaela Smith, only 11-years-old and a tiny slip of a girl, came in first for females with 6:22 in the six-minute group. Mikaela Smith said she had taken some time off from running and she was just getting back in the game.
“I feel like I did better than I did before,” she said with a big smile.
Olympic Day is celebrated all around the world on June 23. According to a media release from Wallace Williams of V.I. Pace Runners, Olympic Day was introduced in 1948 to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games, June 23, 1894, at the Sorbonne in Paris. The goal was to promote participation in sports across the globe regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. National Olympic Committees organize sports, cultural and educational activities based on the three Olympic pillars “move,” “learn” and “discover.”
Ana Gutierrez ran the ladies marathon in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. She walked around the track with Eugene Phipps, a local tae kwon do coach. They both said they were taking part to show their support.
Williams said some of the runners used the race to prep for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Ivan Butcher, from the St. Croix Hiking Association, said his group was preparing for a hiking trip to the Leeward Islands.
“Our goal is to stay healthy too,” Butcher said.
Friends, coaches and family members yelled encouragement and cheered from the bleachers and the sidelines.
The race was sponsored by the International Olympic Committee, the V.I. Olympic Committee, V.I. Track and Filed Federation and the V.I. Pace Runners. Ray Lutz, V.I. Olympic Committee member, said they were thankful that Williams organized the race.
The registration was free and each participant received an official time for completing the distance and the number of calories burned. Each participant was also given an Olympic Day T-shirt, certificate and pin. The Olympic Day Run will be Sunday on St. Thomas.