Damion Walker’s debut in the first Baisley Park 5K run proved to be a tremendous success. Walker’s victory in the road race in Jamaica, New York thus earned him an automatic entry into the Reggae Marathon to be held on Dec. 3 in Negril, Jamaica, West Indies.
The Reggae Marathon is a premier event in the marathon calendar having grown tremendously since the inception drawing sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
Last Saturday’s race was conducted by the Awesome Power Track Club and the Team Jamaica Bickle. In addition to the 3.1 mile race, the organizers conducted a one mile race for those who were unable to go the longer distance, primarily the kids. The course of both races stayed within the park and the course of the longer event is two loops around the pond within the Park.
Born in Jamaica, West Indies, the 19-year-old Walker, the class of the field, took the lead in the 5K race on the first lap coming in the home stretch going into the second lap of the two loop course.
“After that I pushed myself to the finish,” Walker said. “Winning here is great for my first time. I wanted to show people what I could do. I’m going to Jamaica!”
For Walker, the trip to Jamaica means going home. His mother is still living in Jamaica. While he resides with his father here in Queens.
“It’s good for me because I was born in Kingston, Jamaica,” the winner said. “I ran track down there. Track was fun but I was small. When I came here at the age of 10, I began enjoying life and I’m trying to become ‘something’ here and build a better life for me and my family.”
Walker trained hard the week prior to the race within Baisley Park.
“My coach has been pushing me all through practice,” said Walker, who posted the winning time of 18:02.5.
He spent his high school days at Springfield Gardens High School and now he is training for future races. He competes for the Ruff Kutz Track Club and trains at nearby Roy Wilkins Park.
Walker placed one spot ahead of Marc Smith’s 18;21.7, and two ahead of Amado Lawson’s 18:27.1 in the age group race. The female winner, who also earned a trip to Jamaica, for the same event was Evelyn Abiola, who covered the course in 18:59.5. Elizabeth Perez finished second in 19:55.3, one position ahead of Charlen Bossut’s 20:57.2.
The mile run, also held within the same park, was taken by a female. However, Declan Kearns, who was clocked in 6:47 was the first male to cross the finish line, but he placed third, overall, one place ahead of Allester Hall’s 7:02. But the overall winner was Nia Lundy, who triumphed in a time of 5:56.50, one position ahead of Becki Marcus who wound up second in 5:57.20.
In addition to staging the two events, there was a fitness walk.
“It’s exciting to be the first male to finish,” said Kearns. “My goal is to break my older brother’s records.”
“Overall, we are trying to promote healthy lifestyles through sports,” said Irwin Clare, CEO of Team Jamaica Bickle, one of organizers of this event.
“Team Jamaica Bickle, formed 17 years ago to facilitate and assist the athletes from Jamaica who participated primarily at the Penn Relays. We pride ourselves especially through the Jamaican and Caribbean community about our progress right now in athletics. We also have some relationship in Queens as we are working with a track club. Awesome Power Track Club is working closely with Team Jamaica Bickle as we contribute back to our local community. Next year we plan to do a bigger event as we celebrate Jamaica’s 50th independence anniversary.”
Race director Sean Phillips of Awesome Power Track Club attracted many positive feedback from the community and various groups familiar with the work that the Jamaica Bickle and APTC provides.
Council member Leroy Comrie attended the event and cheered on the runners, especially the kids.