Saturday, Dec. 31, was the sixth day of Kwanzaa, and St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners (STAR), as it has done for more than three decades, conducted its annual Kwanzaa Walk/Run, despite all day off-and-on rain that thinned the field of competitors. The event featured a 7K race with each kilometer commemorating one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. St. Croix’s Wallace Williams, now the general secretary of the V.I Track and Field Federation, won the first Kwanzaa Run that was held in 1982.
Shane DeGannes, just weeks after a victory in the masters’ category of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship in Charlotte and an outstanding performance in the BVI Half-Marathon, ran the Kwanzaa 7K in 29:05. Mark Pippen followed in 31:43. Diane Stolmar led the women finishing in 43:23 with Anna Paiewonsky in second.
Not pressed by a large group of competitors, neither leader challenged existing course records. The sole male in the two-miler was last year’s winner Bilal Muhammad, while Kate Bassiere was credited with the women’s two-mile victory, but, in fact, she ran an additional distance by completing a significant portion of the 7K course.
The event was covered live by UVI’s radio station WUVI with teenager Majestik Estrada-Petersen leading a brief observance of Kwanzaa ritual. She explained that this principle for the sixth day of Kwanzaa is Kuumba, which encourages creativity, and led the group to declare “Harambee” (Let’s pull together).
STAR’s next event is the Martin Luther King 5K Run that will start from Vitraco Park at 7:15 a.m. on Jan. 15. STAR race directors have encouraged runners and walkers to help STAR reach its goal of exceeding 400 women in the next Women’s Jogger Jam. They also announced the likelihood that a group of Danish marathoners will conduct three 26.2-mile events (one on each island) in March 2017 as part of the centennial activities.
Complete results follow below. For additional information, contact Roy Watlington at 777-8183
All finishers of the Kwanzaa Walk/Run, Dec. 31, 2016
1) Shane DeGannes 29:05
2) Mark Pippen 31:43
3) Steven Laplace 32:31
4) Jason Budsan 38:27
1) Diane Stolmar 43:23
2) Anna Paiewonsky 61:02
2.0 Mile Run/Walk
MEN: Bilal Muhammad 17:14
WOMEN: Kate Bassiere (ran extra distance) 51:09