MINISTER OF Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe made her debut on Sunday morning in the 15th UWI Half Marathon, which took place along the Priority Bus Route from St Augustine to D’Abadie in Arouca, and back.
Cudjoe acknowledged that the morning heat was an issue but, that aside, she was impressed with the staging of the nation’s premier half marathon.
“The heat was an issue,” said Cudjoe yesterday. “I really hope UWI can consider having the race earlier in the morning.
“The race started at 5.30 but I wouldn’t mind it starting (at) 4.30, to get off the road faster and to beat the heat,” she added. “But this weekend was really, really hot.”
On the other side of the coin, Cudjoe pointed out, “All and all, it was a very well-organised event. I’m happy to see all different types of people, (there were) locals and a lot of visitors. I think what made the run exciting for me, and I think other runs could take note of it, is (that) they had pan groups along the way.
“They had different steelpan bands and that made it really exciting. It’s always good to include new items. That was a good thing for me.”
According to the Sports Minister, “This was my third Half Marathon. I’ve done the Half Marathons in Tobago (twice) before, the Sea to Sea Marathon. This was my first time doing the UWI event.”
She admitted that her time for Sunday’s 13.1-mile race was approximately three hours.
“I don’t really check on the time when I run, especially as somebody who don’t really have the time to train as much as I would like to,” Cudjoe said. “My business is really to get in the race and complete it. But I know I came in at about three hours roughly. I think, with training, I’ll get to do better.”
She continued, “My focus is to really complete the race and promote good health, promote women in health and women fitness. That’s really my purpose for running.”
Asked if she hopes to see some of fellow parliamentarians at the 2019 edition, Cudjoe replied, “Not just women in Parliament but women on the whole (including) women in leadership, to encourage other women and other young people to maintain good fitness.
“I do it really for fun. I’m no great athlete but I run to keep my mental and physical health in-tact.”
Race co-ordinator Raymond Chin Assang was pleased with how things panned out on Sunday morning.
“We had good weather,” he said. “In fact, it might have been a little bit too warm for some people. Even though the race started at 5.30, some people take two hours, three hours (or) four hours to finish. It would have been hard for them out in the sun.”
Chin Assang continued, “We didn’t have any problems on the course. There was just one mishap, the defending champion (Cuban-born Mexican Richer Perez) missed the race. I don’t know what we could have done about that. He set his alarm and I think he probably was on Mexico time and he didn’t change (the time on) his watch.
“The hotel is about 500 metres away so it’s not as if we were sending a vehicle to pick him up. In this case, they were all responsible for finding their way to the start.”
Chin Assang noted that, with no Kenyan entrants this year, coupled with the humid conditions, there were slim chances that the course records would have been broken.
As far as the participants were concerned, “The race was bigger than last year. It’s the biggest race we’ve had so far. The amount was 1,300 last year, and I think we went above that this year, although the target was really 1,500 this year. I don’t know what’s going to be the target next year.”