BY AARON GRAY (DAILY NEWS STAFF)
Published: January 24, 2012
Mike Klein had a simple plan and he stuck to it.
The 46-year-old distance runner thought if he consistently ran 10-minute miles, he would come across the finish line in first place at the third annual St. Croix Scenic 50-Mile Run on Sunday. Klein started out fast, but the Caribbean sun came out and he fell slightly off his planned pace.
Lucky for him, the long-time St. Croix resident has been in similar situations before.
“I’m used to the sun, and I trained all year long in this weather,” said Klein, who set a new course record Sunday when he finished the ultra-marathon in 8 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds. “But the conditions for this race were perfect. There was a cool breeze and we had nice cloud cover in the morning.”
Six distance runners completed the 50-mile race – the longest road race in the U.S. Virgin Islands – while nine started Sunday’s race at 5 a.m. St. Croix resident Amanda Warehime, 40, was the lone women’s finisher.
Klein has run in all three installments of the race and finished third in his previous two attempts. He said his main goal this year was to finish first and set the new standard for the course.
“This, for me, is the biggest race all year,” said Klein, who finished runner-up at the St. Croix International Marathon on Dec. 4. “I mean, I want to do other distance races but this is the No. 1 for me. I trained the whole year for this and I was ready.”
Before Klein won the 29th Veterans Day 5K-V.I. Cross Country Championships in November on St. Croix, he ran in the Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run last summer and did the JFK 50-Mile Memorial in Maryland.
He did a few 30-mile training runs locally with his running partner, Troy Halloway, who finished second in 9:49:37. Kirk DePriest of Severance, Colo., took third in 10:19:16, followed by Warehime, who set the women’s course record in 10:54:07.
“I didn’t have a lot of high hopes going in because my fitness level wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” said Warehime, who suffered a stress fracture in her right foot in August and had to take six weeks off of training. “I was happy to be able to finish. This one ranks up there with my top personal accomplishments.”
Warehime, a New Mexico native, has lived on St. Croix for the last 10 years and competed in the very first Scenic 50-Mile race in 2010.
“I ran a much smarter race this time,” she said. “I did not expect that kind of time so it was an amazing experience.”