Ryan O’Neal of Guardian Group made a strong debut in the CariFin Games as he emerged the first leg leader after the completion of the CariFin Games One Lap Savannah event last week.

O’Neal headed out of the main pack and when he got into stride, no one was able to stay within striking distance. His was a solo effort to the finish line which he crossed in 14 minutes 28 seconds. It was a huge improvement over the 2014 winning time of 15.07 achieved by Jedidiah Benjamin of RBC, who finished third in this year’s edition in 15.56.

Defending cross country champion John Donaldson was second in 15:12 after he encountered trouble at the start by getting stuck in the pack.

“It felt good winning but it wasn’t anticipated, my team captain (Joella Richardson-Griffith) motivated me. It was a fantastic experience, also being my first time in CariFin Games,” O’Neal said.

“I felt a little bit disappointed because I got caught badly in the pack, I don’t know how I would of done exactly, I am looking forward to the Chancellor and Sevilla Cross country, because these have more pace from the start,” Donaldson reasoned about his failure to get closer to O’Neal.

Close to 1,000 participants, comprising walkers and runners, sped off in this race.

Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) of Trinidad and Tobago, said that, “other industries should have similar events promoting health and fitness among their members”.

On the women’s side RBC’s Susan Russell, the 2014 Carifin cross country champion, completed the course in 17.47 ahead of Sagicor’s Adona Joseph in 18.19 and Jillette Landeau of team Guardian Group in 18.44 filling 3rd spot.

“My competition was not with the group of women, but more in terms of my personal times. I did a wonderful 17.47 but I was hoping to go below 18 minutes. Last year I did 19.05. Kudos to the team I train with, the Trinidad and Tobago Road Runners Club.” Russell said.

Deodath Harrikissoon of First Citizens made it four in a row, having not been beaten in any of the four stages for the last 3 years, and now taking the 1st race for 2015 in 23.28, taking on all newcomers on the day, and making light work of the course,

“It was an overwhelming feeling winning for yet another year making it four in a row.” he said.

Clem Jubrasingh of RBC followed in second place in a time of 23.32 and Christopher Reid of Guardian Group in 24.49.

Aliyah Henry, representing Republic Bank, showed that she had the will, passion and determination after winning the race in 2014 in a time of 25.46. She returned in 2015 to post her first win in the four-part series, clocking 26.58.