Controversy reigns as Marathon Derby ends in farce

Lamont Marshall wins despite placing second, TNN ordered off race course by police, race committee member resigns.

Photo courtesy of Montoya Lawrence photography.

Controversy reigned at the 114th Bermuda Day Half Marathon Derby, as two ancillary items and one situation directly related to the competition emerged in the aftermath of the event ‘won’ by Lamont Marshall.

On the course Marshall claimed a fourth title despite crossing the finish line in second place behind Dennis Mbelenzi, while TNN’s Trevor Lindsay was ordered off the race route close to the 9th-mile mark.

Off the path a senior race committee member is believed to have resigned there position, purportedly due to confusion surrounding the bidding process for broadcast rights and the embarrassment presented in having an ineligible runner ‘win’ the race.

Mbelenzi, who broke the tape on Dutton Avenue in 1:12:42 was deemed ineligible due to his not having fulfilled the residency requirement contained in the race rules. Mbelenzi is a former Bermuda resident and guest worker, who lived on island from 2007 to 2019 before moving to Canada, however the event requires that runners be current residents with six-months continuous stay prior to the event.

As it was the Kenyan runner influenced the race from the outset, as part of the lead pack of runners emerging out of St George’s, one that included the likes of Marshall, Sean Trott, Ryan Outerbridge and Sammy DeGraff.

He pulled Marshall along with him as the pair separated themselves from Trott along North Shore, as they approached the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, and dropped the local for good on Middle Road in surging past The Arboretum.

Television coverage continually complained of the dilemma they were faced with in reporting on the exploits of a runner known to be ineligible, eventually shifting video and commentary focus from Mbelenzi to Marshall as the race ventured into Hamilton.

At the finish Marshall refused to comment on his ‘victory’ and could be seen waving off reporters from the Bermuda Broadcasting Company and The Royal Gazette, dismissing them in their attempts to chat.

“You would have seen that out in the front was a young man, but you have ‘out in the front’ and we have ‘the front’,” said race committee president Dr Gina Tucker during the post-race awards ceremony. “This is a local event, a local race, and it has rules and we stick to those rules.

“You have to be a resident or six months here (and) we are committed to that.
“This is our event. It’s clear on our website, however we welcome and appreciate people come and run with us, do we congratulate the young man, Dennis … I think he was in Bermuda long enough to get that spirit and he’s been looking to have that spirit for a long time.”

Ignoring Mbelenzi’s winning performance, Marshall was granted the top podium place, his time of one hour, 14 minutes, 23 seconds over the 13.1 mile course besting the 1:16:20 recorded by Sean Trott in second and Moses Mufandaedza, who was third in 1:18:45.
While Marshall was reluctant to speak, Trott did offer comment as to his performance, which came up just short as he finished as the runner-up for a fifth time in the spring classic.

“I definitely maximized it today,” said Trott. “I’m spent completely.”
Trott was well aware of Mbelezi’s ineligibility due to a similar thing happening a year ago, when the African was second to Chris Estwanik.
“Yeah I’m aware of it, because it happened last year too to be fair,” added Trott. “Because last year I was third, but really it was second, so I knew.”
Trott was hoping to earn his maiden triumph this year, butagain came up just short of the mark.

“I went for it this year,” he said. “I gave it everything. “Up to about six miles I was around the first group but yeah the effort was just too much today, so my legs, they just didn’t let me go any further.
“It’s a difficult race, with the conditions plus the distance and everything is definitely tough, but the crowd is just a lift, that’s for sure.

“I feel completely spent and I’m definitely ready to drop.”
Among the women, Gayle Lindsay seized her first Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby on Friday with a measured, come-from-behind win over Brianna Mendes.
Lindsay, second a year ago, overtook Mendes as the pair entered Hamilton, finishing in 1:29:22, placing 14th overall, with Mendes clocking 1:30:11 and Christine Dailey listed third in 1:33:48.

“I’m so happy,” said an uinderstandingly ebullient Lindsay moments after crossing the finish line. “That was my first win and I’ve been dreaming about that moment for quite a long time, so to make it become a reality is pretty special right now.” “It was actually really nice at the end. It was not too hot. It was humid, but there was a nice breeze, so we definitely got lucky.

TNN’s Lindsay, who elected to livestream the race for the fact that the event took place over public property, was ordered off the course by a member of the the Bermuda Police Service’s (BPS) motorcycle division near Hinson Lane in Smith’s Parish, in the area of Windybank Farm, after livestreaming the race up until that point, with Mbelenzi leading Marshall by just a few metres.

Lindsay, who had been told by Tucker that he could record just ten minutes of the event, but was given no parametres as to what or when he could present such footage, obeyed the order and proceeding to the finish-line area, where he resumed filming and streaming live.

After the race TNN News inquired to the BPS media relation department as to why was TNN News order off the course today, the response stated below.

“We have been advised you were instructed to leave the course because you did not have permission from the event organiser to be on the route”.

Meanwhile, race committee member who inherited part-ownership of the privately owned and operated event from his late father, was said to have been displeased with the lack of transparency and openness of the bidding process for broadcast rights, which were granted to the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, seemingly without allowing rival media, including TNN, legitimate opportunity to offer submissions.

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