[Written by Stephen Wright]
Former island resident Dennis Mbelenzi will return to the nation the place he found a ardour for operating when he competes within the Bermuda Triangle Challenge subsequent week.
Mbelenzi, who lived on the island from 2007 to 2019, will run the Full Marathon subsequent Sunday, and his goals are threefold: to win the race, set up a brand new course report, and beat his private better of 2hr 26min 07sec.
The Kenyan turned a agency favorite inside the native operating group, having taken half in his first aggressive race within the Ovarian Most cancers Zurich 5K at Clearwater in 2016.
A number of wins adopted, together with the David Saul Memorial Constancy 5K Highway Race, the AXA Man on the Run 5K, the Pals of Hospice/Hannover Re Half-Marathon, the Bacardi 8K Highway Race and the Swan’s Operating Membership Legends race sequence.
“Bermuda, for me, is dwelling relating to operating,” mentioned Mbelenzi, who now lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. “I come from Kenya, however I’ve by no means run in Kenya.
“The native operating group know me, and the followers are enthusiastic about operating. They know operating a lot they grow to be your coach once you’re out on the course.
“I’ve heard them shout, ‘Dennis, calm down your shoulders! Dennis, run your race!’ I’m trying ahead to operating once more in Bermuda and interacting with the followers.”
The 41-year-old competed within the Entrance Avenue Mile and Half-Marathon in 2019, ending third in each races, however has shifted his focus to marathons since shifting to Canada, the place he has loved some spectacular shows.
In 2021, he gained the Scotiabank Blue Nostril Marathon and the Prince Edward Island Marathon, setting a brand new course report [2:30:23], and completed second within the Fredericton Marathon.
Final yr, he set a brand new private finest on the Boston Marathon, putting second within the 40-45 age class and fifth in his age division on the Chicago Marathon in 2:26:24.
“If you begin taking the marathon critically, with the proximity of the opposite two races [the Front Street Mile on Friday and 10K and Saturday], you can not do the opposite races,” he mentioned. “I need to be contemporary for the Full Marathon.
“The brand new course from Somerset to Hamilton shall be powerful, particularly the primary half. Firstly, I need to win, and if issues go nicely, I desire a course report. Attaining a private finest is my third purpose, which shall be fairly tough.”
Mbelenzi can even return to the island for the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby in Might, having been disenchanted together with his efficiency final yr, ending second in 1:13:29, 33 seconds behind perennial favorite Chris Estwanik.
“I anticipated Chris Estwanik to win,” Mbelenzi mentioned. “Nonetheless, I anticipated to be nearer to him than I used to be. I wasn’t proud of how I did.
“I made some strategic errors and wasn’t contemporary, having run the Boston Marathon in April. I’ll be again this yr, and hopefully, the race shall be extra aggressive.”
As for his recommendation for his fellow marathon opponents, Mbelenzi added: “In the direction of the tip of the race, the final 10K, it’s going to be onerous for everyone. You’ll be going by hell!
“Nonetheless dangerous you’re feeling – nicely, that’s how everyone else will really feel, so don’t stop!
“Keep in mind, don’t begin too fast, be affected person early on, and most significantly, put in all the things you’ve received!”
Mbelenzi has not all the time been the svelte-like determine he’s right now. In 2013, he weighed 220Ib and knew he needed to make drastic way of life modifications.
Three years later, after shedding the kilos, he determined to compete in his first aggressive race and has by no means appeared again.
“It’s insane how far I’ve come,” he added. “The rationale I began exercising was merely to shed some pounds. I had no intention of operating; I used to be doing cardio within the gymnasium.
“I finally began operating outdoors and studying extra about learn how to be wholesome and match by operating.
“I don’t have any expertise for operating. If I did, it might be lots simpler! I’ve received so far purely by onerous work. Onerous work beats expertise.”