The last Sunday in January was the T&T International Marathon (TTIM).
Unlike previous years, the following Monday was painless. That is simply because, in my fifth marathon in a row, the preparation was much better. Naturally, it helped that there was better support both mentally and physically this time around, unlike previous efforts.
In summing it up, it was just that, a lot of sums - a lot of calculation, some calculus, and a little geometry - but most importantly some critically pertinent advice from my brother Nigel Mark and some serious introspection on my fitness.
Two days of intense training with him for over four hours was enough to make me understand, what champion horse racing trainer Glenn Mendez must endure when he is putting his charges through their workouts, ahead of the Stewards Cup and the Gold Cup. Congrats to him as well on his five winners on Saturday.
Unlike previous years, we generally stuck to our relay plan, although we still achieved a lot more than originally planned among the usual suspects in the relay team of Tony Lee, Elizabeth Griffith, Anton La Fond, Roger Daniel, Richie Rahim (the 70-year-old who was the fastest), Captain Andy Cheeks and a newcomer Allan Fraser.
Guardian Media Limited’s Sunny Bling and Robert Dumas, each had objectives and each managed to soul search their respective personalities to achieve their own glory and while Sunny Bling has been a regular over the last few years, Dumas' run for his loving dad, was both inspirational and emotional and proves that love overcomes nearly everything even in sports.
The main man behind this effort was the president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis, who started the race from 3.30 am. His aim was to surpass his previous personal best and this year, Lewis seemed to be best prepared to do that and the fact, that Dianne Henderson (chairperson of TTIM), and her team had arranged for the Priority Bus Route (PBR) to be utilised traffic free from Curepe to Port-of-Spain, ensured a smoother, less obstructive course. The odds certainly were in Lewis's favour.
And when T&T’s leading marathon female on the day, Sjaelan Evans, waltzed pass our group, it appeared that everyone was indeed enjoying the change in conditions and surface. The ease of transition in her stride and the smile on her face told a picture of a young woman getting ready for something greater (London Marathon).
After all of these efforts, one can only hope that both corporate T&T and other related persons would come forward with assistance going forward.
As was the case last year and in previous years, as the race progressed, it was clear that there was going to be some pace on, as both Daniel and Nigel Mark seemed intent on 12-minute miles but by the 19 mile marker though that thought process and mindset was eroded and replaced by the reality of 14 to 15 minute miles.
This year, the one drawback of utilising the PBR was easily realised, as you were not able to interact and communicate with spectators as easily as when you are using the Eastern Main Road. Hopefully going forward the T&T public will become accustomed to the new course and make their presence felt.
Five years ago when Lewis conceptualised this venture to raise funds towards the athletes welfare and assistance drive leading to his 10 or more Olympic gold medals by 2024, there were many who scoffed at the idea but yet again by thinking outside of the box and having commitment support and putting aside self-interest, Lewis and his team have changed the face of the TTOC, towards a more all-encompassing organisation than a “boys club".
So just as TTOC 's drive for "The Future is Female" is generating numerous plaudits, and drawing attention the lack of women in sports administration, let us hope more persons understand the significance of such going forward.
Perhaps, I am hopeful that in 2020, more women come out to support from all over T&T, by actually participating, but then as I looked at the hardworking group of Nadine Khan, Lovie Santana, Rheeza Grant and Chanelle Young, I can see the need for not only diversity in our sports administration but also in sports coverage. Who knows the next president of the TTOC, could very much be a woman.
This year, it was great to have the mayor of Port-of-Spain Joel Martinez and the Minister of Agriculture, Senator Clarence Rambharat both complete the course as well. Perhaps the growth from a group of eight in 2015 to 41 persons this edition, suggests the increasing buy-in of persons for what Lewis is striving to achieve but the truth is we need more support.