Suleman Shifa earned Ethiopia another title in the Elite Men’s 10K on Saturday, although this time the East African country did not dominate the podium as Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield finished a close second.
Although last year’s Ethiopian top three Birhanu Dare Kemal, Abu Kebede Diriba and Girma Bekele Gebre were all missing, Shifa continued his nation’s success in Bermuda, clocking a time of 32min 24secs, just three seconds ahead of Butterfield.
Shifa said he found the conditions challenging. “I feel good, but it was too much heat for a 10K race,” said Shifa, who was third in the Men’s Elite Front Street Mile on Friday. “I was feeling my hamstring in the last two miles.”
Butterfield, the winner of last year’s marathon, followed up competing in the mile on Friday as part of the Triangle Challenge, with a strong showing in the 10K. He only decided to return to Bermuda from his home in Colorado a week ago.
“I wanted to test myself and run as close to five minute miles as I could,” Butterfield said. “I only signed up on Monday, but wrote Mrs [Donna] Raynor [the Bermuda National Athletics Association president] to get me into a marathon in March in Japan and she helped me get in.
“I told her I wasn’t fit enough to do the [Bermuda] marathon because I’m short on training and she wrote that ‘the BNAA would love to see you do a race here at some point this year’.
“I figured I could do the Front Street Mile, 10K and Half-Marathon, so I asked my wife [Nikki Butterfield] and she said, ‘As long as you’re back by Monday for your son’s fifth birthday!’ I’m leaving tomorrow after the race.
“I’m thankful for the support from the BNAA; the [Bermuda Marathon Weekend] marathon last year enabled me to [run the marathon] at the Commonwealth Games.
“When I asked for help they helped me right away, and I thought the least I can do is come and support an event that helped me get to the level that I’m at.”
Butterfield’s friendly rivalry with older brother Spencer continued yesterday. Spencer got the early edge in the mile race on Friday.
“My brother still loves it; he claimed one of the records and pipped me in the Triple Challenge,” Butterfield said.
Spencer’s 1993 primary school mile record still stands while Tyler holds the high school record from 1999.
“I’ve never done the Triple Challenge; last year was my first time back after leaving high school.”
Spencer, who finished in 36:51: “Tyler called me in the week and said he would come home if I ran the Triangle Challenge with him. I said, ‘If that’s what it takes to get you home, then I’ll let do it.
“I wanted to be sub-40 and ended up sub-37, so I’m pleased. I was running with Tucker Murphy and Chris Harris, a group of four of us who had a good pace. I just tucked in with them. When I felt good in Flatts, I knew I had to pick up the pace.”
Shifa’s speed over the last 50 yards enabled him to stay just ahead of Butterfield.
“I was surprised to catch up to him right at the end, but I think he was easing up a little and was probably also thinking about tomorrow,” Butterfield added.
“When you are running in front of someone, it’s hard to know if they are catching you or not. I was running the downhill and flats well, but anytime there was an uphill I couldn’t hang. I was just thankful there was somebody to run with. I wasn’t worried about placing so much, just chasing a good training time.”
Canadians Ethan Davenport and Sacha Smart were third and fourth in 33:50 and 34:11 before Seamus Fearon, the second local finisher, was fifth in 34:40.
“It’s a phenomenal race; I was tracking Sean Trott the whole way and we had a good battle into Flatts,” Fearon said.
“On North Shore, we were right beside each other and then I put in a bit of a surge and was a few seconds ahead of him. I’m training for the Boston Marathon on April 15. I was able to put in more effort today because I don’t have to run tomorrow.”
Just three seconds separated Fearon from Trott. “From the start I could tell my legs were a little heavy from last night and last week, but I had to put my head down and push through it,” said Trott, winner of the Goslings to Fairmont Southampton race last weekend.
“It was definitely a battle between me and Seamus and it came down to the last quarter of a mile. He had a little more in the tank than I did. I’ll just keep putting my head down and training right through to May.”
Johndell Cumberbatch, who won the Local Men’s Mile on Friday, was pleased with his first attempt at the 10K. He placed sixteenth overall and won the 12-19 age group in 38:18.
“There were a lot of people cheering for me, more than I expected, so that made it easy to run,” said the 18-year-old. “It was pretty hot today; I didn’t expect that.”