Chayce Smith secured a maiden Bermuda National Athletics Association Cross Country Championships title in convincing fashion at Astwood Park on Saturday.
Smith, the pre-race favourite, outkicked fellow contender Sean Trott on the final lap to take the win in 26min 8sec.
Trott crossed in second in 26:23 while Oliver Kempe was third in 35:40. The close battle between Smith and Trott lived up to expectations as very little separated the pair who continually swapped the lead before Smith made the decisive break.
“It was a very close battle,” Smith said. “Sean took it to me in the beginning. He went out at like a 5:30 pace and it kind of shocked my system.”
Smith eventually gained control and opened up a comfortable gap by the midway stage.
Trott regained the lead, though, after Smith took his foot off the gas early on in the penultimate lap to catch a breather.
“Sometimes we play possum and when I pulled away from him I just kind of walked to catch myself again,” Smith said. “I knew I had one lap to go. I just coasted with him for a little while and then gave him my best shot.”
Smith was delighted to finally win the title after several unsuccessful attempts.
“This victory is special for me because over the years Jay [Donawa] has come out and beat me or Lamont [Marshall],” he said. “Sean is always a strong competitor as you saw today.
“It’s just a different atmosphere when it’s the national championships and everyone brings their ‘A’ game.”
Gayle Lindsay defended her open women’s title. The Scot cut an isolated figure for much of the race, crossing the line in 24min 46sec.
“It was really harder than I was expecting, but overall I was happy,” Lindsay said.
“I wanted to take the first lap kind of easy just to sight the course and try to build it up from there. I’ve not done this particular course before, but the last time I was at Astwood Park it definitely wasn’t that hard.
“Maybe it was a combination of the heat and running on that grass. The grass felt like sponge, so it zapped your energy.”
Kimberly Mclvor, the only other competitor in the open women’s field, crossed in 27:27.