Fournier Wins Virgin Gorda Half Marathon Battle After Reeling In Stoby


Photo courtesy of Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

By BVI Athletics Association

For a moment during Saturday’s 5th Virgin Gorda Half Marathon, Vincent Fournier thought he’d given home turf advantage to Tortola resident Ruben Stoby, who opened a sizeable gap.

“The way this started out, I didn’t think I was going to win it,” said Fournier who covered the 13.1 mile hilly course in 1 hour 35 minutes and 24 seconds, with Stoby another 35 seconds back. “We were head to head then in those hills (going to Nail Bay) he took a big head start and I told myself, ‘alright Vincent, if you follow that pace, you’re going to die in the middle of the race’ so I decided to try and do my own race and, try to catch up when it was flat again. But, he was so far ahead that I didn’t think I’d catch up.”

Fournier said that eventually near the Coppermine Road on the southern end of the island he noticed he was making an inroad into Stoby’s lead, which gave him a big boost.

“Eventually I caught up to him, we ran together until Top of the Baths and I was like alright, I live on this island its time for me to give all I got for the rest and defend home turf and I’m proud,” he said. “Even if I’ve only been here for six months.”

Stoby said it was a good cat and mouse race and after seizing the lead, he thought Fournier had fallen off the pace for good.

“I think the mistake I made was not to try to push it from there and I just continued and allowed him to catch me,” Stoby explained, noting he was surprised to see Fournier in Copper Mine. “When I turned around, I saw him right there and for a runner, that can be psychologically challenging. We ran together for a little while, then he made a move just before the turnaround at the Baths and I failed to cover that. But, I’m not too disappointed because he’s a good athlete. I wanted to win, but nevertheless, it’s my second, second. I remember El Garrough (Hachim). He tried for the Olympic gold three times and he was expected to win and he didn’t.  Just like that, I’m going to come back and hopefully win in on the third try.”

Maria Mays, sixth overall was the first woman crossing the line in 1:52.16 and said she was surprised to win after having a bug earlier in the week and she expected to feel awful. “But after the first mile, I didn’t,” she said. “I really wasn’t on form and I thought I wasn’t going to do it then I decided to go out, have fun and and enjoy it. I felt much stronger than I thought I’d be.”

Frequent visitor Ryan Blanchard of Richmond Va., who’s getting married on Virgin Gorda this week, ran the race with his fiancé Andrea Sorlie.

“It was a little hotter than last year I really liked the over cast last year,” he said. “It’s a great race. You can’t beat the views. Whenever your legs start hurting, you just look out-doesn’t take the pain away-but it takes your mind off it.”

He’d hope to finish in under two hours and did 2:13.10 and his fiancé, 2:35.46. “I ran it all last year but I walked up the big hills this time because I knew where they were,” he said.

Native Virgin Gordian Kilen Smith said she had been running two mile races and decided to tackle the 6 Mile Challenge as she’d never run that far before. “It was good,” she said.  After finishing in 1:18.03, before going to play with the Virgin Gorda Eagles in the BVI Volleyball Association championship game.  “I thought it would have been a bit tougher, but for the first time, I think I did good.”

Top Half Marathon Finishers. Men: 1. Vincent Fournier, 1 hour 35 minutes and 24 seconds. 2 Rebuen Stoby, 1:35.59. 3. Guy Williamson, 1:44.49. 4. Jacques Roux, 1:48.08. 5. Rodrigo dos Santos, 1:51.56.Women: Maria Mays, 1:52.16. 2. Melissa Brunner, 2:00.17. 3. Rebecca Paul, 2:01.32. 3. Kim Tackeuchi, 2:10.24. 4. Claudia Ferrari, 2:10.35.5. Mellisende Rowe, 2:12.20.

Fournier, Ruschienski win 2016 BVI Steelman

By: BVI Tri Federation

Vincent Fournier and Natasha Ruschienski were the winners of the 2016 BVI Steelman. Photo: BVI Tri Federation

“The Steelman”, BVI’s toughest multi discipline event was switched from its traditional afternoon Winter slot to a new Spring date. On April 9, triathletes reveled in the flat, fast, traffic free conditions with some superb racing in both adult and junior divisions. Vincent Fournier and Natasha ‘Tash’ Ruschienski respectively took the 2016 BVI Steelman titles in the adult male and female categories.

The line up at the swim start featured Tortola’s five finest open water swimmers and they did not disappoint. Jaco Boss was quickest off the mark but was soon reeled in by top swimmer, Martin Trott and Aussie “Dangerman” Shane Donovan with Antony ‘the Chorpdeo” Spencer and Tash Ruscheinski covering every move.

After twenty four minutes of bumping, barging and bashing the five could not be separated each smashing the previous course record by over two minutes with Martin Trott eventually winning by a finger tip. With a slick transition the Chorpedo made an early move on the bike whilst Dangerman Donovan checked his tyre pressures and brakes before adjusting bicycle clips and bell. Tash Ruscheinski fresh from a personal best at the Puerto Rico Half Ironman set the pace in women’s competition and Philippe Leroy challenged himself with lapping the entire filed in the team bike leg.

Whilst the Chorpedo kept up a metronomic pace the new wonder boy Vincent Fournier slowly ate into his lead. Dan Mitchell rode hard proving its possible to do the event without intending to take part until the last minute, whilst Cayley Smit showed steely determination keeping Tash in sight. In the team event Leroy caught the field one by one whilst Grant Carroll had an unfortunate puncture, Barry D’Kane road a strong leg for team Ferrari and Justin Smit shook off some rust with a typically fierce effort. By the end of the bike leg Chorpedo retained a reduced lead from Fournier, whilst Tash increased her advantage over Cayley. Phillippe closed out the team bike leg with a strong 8 minute edge but failed in his bid to lap the field foiled by some inspired riding from grizzled veteran Alastair Abrehart .

Cheered on by a growing crowd of spectators, competitors donned running shoes and hit the trails and back roads of Beef Island for the final 6 mile run challenge. Fournier continued to reel in the Chorpedo, Tash slowly extended her lead over Cayley whilst in the team event ex-Triathlon President Simon Cookster Cook set his sights on a fuschia clad Kay Reddy. With 3 miles to go Chorpedo finally relinquished his lead to the new champion Fournier who ran a brilliant leg with the fastest run ever recorded in the men’s event. Tash won the women’s event beating brave Cayley whilst Kay Reddy kept the fast charging Cookster at bay by seconds with the closest ever team finish.

Following the adult event there was some excellent kids racing in Trellis Bay organized by Richard Morgan with competition at U6, U9 and U12 level. The spectators agreed it was great to see all the youngsters enjoying their sport.

The next event is the BVI National Triathlon Championships in May.

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