History of 8 Tuff Miles
Upon returning to St. John in September 1996 I was trying to quit smoking and decided to punish myself by running and hopefully then realize that my body and lungs were beat up because of all the chemicals in the cigarettes. On a December Sunday morning close to the end of the year I woke up, put on my running shoes and started running towards Coral Bay from the downtown Cruz Bay area. Carrying a single bottle of water and not at all sure how much time this would take, I now knew I’d be quitting smoking in the very near future. I reached the corner in Coral Bay known as the T intersection in about 1:20:00 and was both surprised and pleased.
Soon after that I attended a meeting of the St. John Action Committee. They were looking for ways to entice St. Thomas folks to come over and spend the day on St. John on the last Saturday of each month with fairs and music and other ideas. My suggestion was to have a footrace and the course would be from one end of the island to the other. Most of the people at the meeting seriously thought I was crazy to suggest the idea but there were people there that saw the idea had potential. With a handful of new friends the date for the first race would be the last Saturday of February. The last Saturday of January was coming up to quickly and that is why we waited, planned accordingly and had the first race on the last Saturday of February, “February, 22 1997.”
The Future Business Leaders of America from Sprauve School volunteered to staff the 12 water stations along the way. Timing would be done by a couple of friends who were on island that winter. We had 25 Tee shirts printed and 21 entries signed up that morning. Quite a few from St. Thomas I might add. The plan was working! There was a Virgin Islands Policemen on a motorcycle leading the first place runner. Most of the entries ran and there were some walkers. First place was 1:01:10. It was Charles Morton from St. Thomas and now the chase was on for future races. Brenda and Mark Wallace were smart enough to film the early morning gathering, the start, some of the middle and a good portion of the finish line. It’s always fun to go back and watch this piece of film with three people standing on the ball field in Coral Bay cheering on the runners as they finish what would soon become the largest attended road race in all of the Virgin Islands.