Danish athletes flock to St. John for Thursday’s Centennial Run

Members of the St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners welcome Danish athletes March 6 on St. Thomas. This was the scene early Sunday morning on St. Thomas for the first leg of the race. Next stop, St. John Thurs. Mar. 9 in Coral Bay. A marathon, a half marathon and a 10 k race will start at staggered times. Registration starts at 5 am. (SUBMITTED PHOTO, Theresa Hodge)


Long ago, as legend has it, a historic act took place in the pre-dawn hours near Fortsberg in Coral Bay. On Thursday morning, another historic act is set to kick off from the VITRAN turnaround at the foot of that historic hill.

Organizers of the Centennial Run say they’re excited to see rising numbers of St. John athletes joining the early morning event. Three races, featuring runners from the Virgin Islands and Denmark began on St. Thomas March 6.

Three races will be run: a full (26.2 mile) marathon, a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and a 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) race. Participating runners will assemble at the Fortsberg turn around on Centerline Road, starting at 5 am.

The first group of runners are expected to cross the starting line at 5:30 am.
The races are being staged to express good will to the people of the Virgin Islands and those celebrating the Transfer Centennial in the month of March, Watlington said.

Among those featured in what’s considered to be the main event is a young athlete from Gifft Hill School who’s preparing for a regional track and field event. One athlete from Denmark is making strides while in the VI by logging his 299th marathon on St. John.

Retired UVI Professor Roy Watlington, head of the St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners says he’s pleased to see runners from the host island ready to greet and fete the Danes.

“Several St. Johnians have signed up for the 10 k(ilometer). I just learned that St John cross country champion Evan Jones from Gifft Hill School will run the 10 kilometer Thursday.  Sunday’s winner Mary Vargo will also challenge this distance again. The 10K race goes off at 7:00 and Evan should be finished by 7:35,” Watlington said.

Host runners from St. Thomas included six year old Alyson Monsanto of St. Thomas, who  made her long-distance debut on Sunday. St. John runners also made the trip over for the first Centnnial run. Fifteen-year-old Lilliana Martinez of St. John was among the top finishers in the 10 kilometer race, which was won by Matthew Crafts and Mary Vargo of St. John.

At that event, Danish marathoner Peter Simonsen ran his 298th marathon. “St. John will be his 299th and should he complete the St. Croix chapter on Sunday the 12th, he will have run 300 (full-length) marathons,” Watlington said.

As was the case in the recent 8 Tuff Miles event, running from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay, the Thursday race features athletes of all ages, including a pair of 69-year-olds.
The Danes, Watlington said, are “an old group,” averaging over 50. The young runners are all expected to be Virgin Islanders.
On Thursday the first race will be the full 26.2 mile marathon which is planned to start at 5:00 am. The half-marathon is scheduled to start at 6:00 am and the 10

kilometer will start at 7:00 am.

Each course consists of multiple laps around the shoreline of downtown Coral Bay and harbor — over to Skippers (formerly Sweet Plantains) and back with a side leg on the flat portion of lower King Hill Road, by Love City Market.
Race fans are invited to witness these races and interact with the Danish visitors and with the runners in general.

Organizers are thanking in advance police, VOAD, VITEMA as well as residents, runners and merchants on St. John for their support of this event. The Virgin Islands Centennial Commission is also supporting the three island Centennial Run.

The last leg of the event is set to take place Sunday on St. Croix.