Ufukuzo Midnight 50km Ultramarathon August 14, 2011
Independence Arch, Bridgetown Barbados: five minutes to midnight. Leon Hazzard, Travis Dass and John Lum Young are only half attentive to the organisers’ race briefing for Barbados’s 2nd Annual Ufukuzo Midnight 50k Ultramarathon. The trio had a difficult time in the last 5km of the Trinidad & Tobago Marathon and this midnight race is longer than any of them haS run before. They think of the distance ahead. Dass is calm and confident, Lum Young apprehensive but Hazzard is in a good mood. He always is on his birthday.
The clock strikes 12. The race is underway. Across Chamberlain Bridge and onto Wharf Road, then Parry, Mc Greggor and Broad Streets as the runners make their way out of Bridgetown towards Highway 2 and 2A.
Leon is comfortable in the lead group of four. White Park, Bank Hall, Bush Hall and Codrington pass in seemingly no time at all. At the 5k mark in Green Hill all runners appear relaxed and settled in their race pace.
The full moon sheds a pale light over a sleeping countryside; only the runners and the race volunteers seem to be disturbing the tranquil setting. Warrens and Highway 2A the lead group is down to three – Joseph Clarke, Winston Mascoll and Leon Hazzard. Welches…Redmans…Bagatelle. Hazzard is still there. At 10k, Bennets, the lead three are still together. The rest of the field is well strung out but all seem determined to conquer the course. None thinks of quitting.
The runners have been steadily climbing since heading north from the capital Bridgetown. To them flat Barbados is a myth. The inclines hurt. Westmoreland/St. Silas Junction, 15k, lead group down to two: Joseph Clarke of Barbados and Leon Hazzard of Trinidad and Tobago.
White Hall, 20k, the leading pair is unchanged. Through Mile and A Quarter the runners continue north. At Rose Hill they pass the 21.1k mark, the half marathon distance. At St Lucy Church Roundabout (24k) the runners turn west to the coast. One of the volunteers encouragingly shouts “it is downhill from here”.
Benthams, 25k. Clarke is off the pace. Leon is feeling great and lets himself go. Barrows, Colleton, Six Mens, Heywoods and before he realises, Speightstown and the 30k mark.
From here the runners make their way south along the West Coast through Mullins, Gibbs Bay, Reeds Bay and Weston. Who said downhill from St Lucy? The runners have to climb out of each bay before descending again to sea level.
Through Alleyne’s Bay, 35k, Hazzard is a man on a mission. Holetown, Sandy Lane, Paynes Bay and the 40k mark, then Mahogany Bay, Fitts Village and Prospect, the 42.2k marker. From here it is no man’s land for all the Trini runners. Do they have what it takes? Can Hazzard hold his lead?
Batts Rock Bay, Black Rock, and Wavell Avenue Junction. Leon Hazzard is running strong. Only 5k left.
Can Leon Hazzard hold on to his 3 minute lead on Joseph Clarke? Can Clarke bridge the gap through the very gently sloping Eagle Hall, Barbarees Hill and Baxters Road?
Hazzard is on Broad Street and he is maintaining the gap on Clarke. Across the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge, along Probyn Street and the finish line at Bay Street Esplanade. One by one the other runners complete this veritable Tour of Barbados.
Hearty congratulations are in order to all, especially to Leon Hazzard who can conquer the world on his day.