8 Tuff Miles race today on St. John Race details

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There are longer road races, and other stiff tests of fitness, throughout the Virgin Islands sporting calendar.

But the 18th annual 8 Tuff Miles road race, coming today to St. John, is the largest field the territory sees each year, and among the largest races in the Caribbean.

And the race is certainly among the toughest - or "tuffest."

More than 1,300 racers are signed up for today's 7:15 a.m. race from the island's Cruz Bay to Coral Bay, navigating a peak elevation of 999 feet.

"There's a lot of energy," race director Peter Alter said Friday. "A lot of positive energy."

And they'll need it.

Last year's champion, David Riddle of Cincinnati, Ohio, is not in today's field.

But many of last year's top racers - such as Derrick Butler, who was second; Mark Teismann, who was fifth; and Brad Dunlevy, who was 17th - are back.

Top local finishers Michael Thompson (ninth last year) and Shane De Gannes (11th), both of St. Thomas, also are competing.

Ruth Ann David, a St. Thomas runner, is the defending champion on the women's side.

She said last month that she'd be competing in the race.

Because of the race, Center Line Road will be closed from 7:25 a.m. until about 10:30 on St. John, according to the Virgin Islands Police Department.

Officers will be posted at various intersections along the route.

The police said that once the majority of runners have arrived in Coral Bay, one lane of traffic will be opened to allow vehicular movement out of Coral Bay.

The vehicle traffic will return to its normal operations once the VIPD deems it safe to do so, according to a news release.

- Contact Daily News Sports Editor Matt Schoch at 714-9117 or email mschoch@dailynews.vi.- When: 7:15 a.m. today

- Where: From Cruz Bay east to Coral Bay, St. John

- Length: 8.38 miles

- About: Over 1,300 racers are running the 18th annual event.

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