Cruise ship to bring 200 runners to St. Croix for race


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ST. CROIX - Local residents are being invited to join 200 runners primarily from Canada who are scheduled to disembark their cruise ship Monday and hit the pavement to run for a cause in Frederiksted.

The Cruise-To-Run 5K Prediction Race starts at 9 a.m. in Frederiksted, which is the first stop of the Cruise-To-Run 2013 tour aboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas and benefits the Women's Coalition of St. Croix.

The cruise begins Sunday in San Juan and will travel to St. Croix; St. Maarten; Antigua; St. Lucia; and Barbados, with foot races taking place in each port. Additionally, a swimming race also will take place in Barbados.

On St. Croix, the race course is just more than three miles and begins at Fort Frederick before heading north onto a segment of Mahogany Road, where runners will loop around and come back up King Street, turn on Market Street and travel down Strand Street to the finish line at the McBean Clock Tower.

The event was started in 2007 by Canadian Jerry Friesen as a way to mesh his love for running with his wife's fantasies about going on a cruise, according to the Cruise-To-Run website. Friesen launched the Cruise-To-Run event, then later included the Runner's Give Back Program, which was his way to make a difference on the islands that they visited by doing some sort of community service.

Wallace Williams, race director on St. Croix, said the most interesting part of the race is that the runners predict the time they expect to complete their run and the person who finishes closest to their guess is the winner.

"Of course the person who comes in first is given recognition, but it is the person who has the best predicted time that is the winner," he said.

Up to 2011, Cruise-To-Run made annual stops in St. Thomas and other Caribbean islands, and Wallace said he often talked with Friesen about someday having St. Croix on the schedule of stops for the event.

"Over the years, Jerry and the crew from Canada made it to St. Croix to provide valuable technical support for our triathlon week events," Williams said. "Now the crew is here for the race."

The events have been successful on St. Thomas because of the support of a number of volunteers and partnering agencies, and Williams said he is hoping for the same response on St. Croix.

Williams said the volunteer work and community support had been great on St. Thomas, and he believes in the work that the coalition does.

"I know first-hand that there is a need in the community for what they do, and in these tough times, they have been hit hard and can really make any funding they get go a long way," he said.

Clema Lewis, co-founder of the Women's Coalition, said she was ecstatic when Williams called to say that the coalition would benefit from the race. It means a lot to the organization whenever any group raises or donates money, but this gesture really touched Lewis' heart, she said.

"Especially in the atmosphere of a low economy, where money is so hard to come by for everyone, we really appreciate it," Lewis said. "We are suffering, other nonprofit organizations are suffering, but they chose us and we are grateful."

Lewis said that in addition to the cruise ship passengers, who will disembark for the run and pay a $10 registration fee, she is hoping that local runners and others interested in helping the coalition, also come out and contribute to the cause.

"The more people who come out, the more we will benefit," he said. "We will have all our volunteers in place. We just need the support of more runners."

To register or for more information, contact The Virgin Islands Pace Runners at http://virginislandspace.org or call 643-2557.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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