TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis led his eighth consecutive fund-raising walk group for the TTOC’s Athletes Welfare and Preparation Fund on Sunday.
While the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon staged the event for runners as a four-lap circuit along the Chaguaramas bicycle path in which 27 athletes participated Sunday, Lewis led a group of similar numbers along the traditional 26.2 mile marathon route, from St Mary’s Junction, Freeport, at 2.35 a.m. — a delay from the planned 2 a.m. start due to circumstances beyond their control — to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, finish line.
Lewis himself completed the distance in six hours and 59 minutes in what he described as a “tough” trek.
Since the TTOC’s Athlete and Welfare Preparation Fund was launched in December 2014, Lewis joined forces with the TT International Marathon (TTIM) to host a marathon/walkathon to help raise funds for Olympic athletes.
The year 2015 marked the inception of the TeamTTO fund-raiser. After he received a constitutional one-year extension to his second term owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, this marathon will be the last one in which Lewis walks as TTOC president since his second term concludes on April 30.
Lewis said he is still amazed at the commitment of citizens to come out to support athletes and young people who they will never meet.
“It is always great to see people give an effort, rally to the cause, make the physical and mental sacrifice of starting and finishing a marathon for a cause.
“And they do it without looking back for any recognition from the TTO athletes who may benefit,” Lewis said, “It is a tremendous act of selflessness, patriotism and support for the athletes and TeamTTO and the youth of this country.”
This year, Lewis described a torturous stretch on the Eastern Main Road between Barataria and Laventille when he felt he had hit the proverbial wall.
But he was motivated by his core group to see out the distance and the race.
Among the group was 72-year-old Richie Rahim, the perennial first finisher of the TTO marathon walk group, who continues to defy his age and repeated again this year.
Also among the walkers were Nigel Baptiste, managing director of Republic Bank, 84-year-old Deryck McIntrye, Rahman Sambrano, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat, sports journalist Andre Baptiste and boxing promoter Bharat Ramoutar of Fine Line Fight Factory.
Additionally, former sports broadcaster Roger Sant, elderly and disabled activist Anton LaFond, former national rugby player Curtis Nero, Keith Lashley, UNC councillor Samuel Sankar, Terrell John and Christian Hannays also made the journey.
As happened at last year’s edition, participants of the TTIM’s traditional Freeport to Queen’s Park Savannah run were again prohibited this year owing to pandemic restrictions. But the TTIM offered a virtual event in which registered participants could complete the 26.2 mile run in one attempt.