Simon, Sutton win Pacific’s first ultramarathon

Danish Simon Grimstrup won the male category of the South Pacific’s first ultramarathon with British Kerrie Sutton taking out the women’s category.

Spokesperson for Vodafone’s Lost Island Ultramarathon, Josephine Prasad, said it was an emotional end as all the runners bearing the Fiji flag raced down the few metres to the finishing line with Alex Flynn, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease to end the race.

“Although Flynn was disqualified from the race earlier, he still chose to run all or part of the five stages and was lost for words when Grimstrup gave his medal to him, Prasad said.

She added “Alex’s mantra is ‘keep moving’ and he inspired all of us — he is the real winner here… I am just blessed to be able to do this as this race was tough and if Alex can do it so can everyone ­— nothing has stopped him”.

Grimstrup’s desires to return to Fiji to help athletes reach the world stage, said Prasad.

“There is so much talent here and my dream is to come back soon hopefully and give back to this beautiful and loving people,” he said.

“Grimstrup paid a lot of tribute and respect to the Fijian ultra-distance runners, Anna Cowley, Petero Manoa and Eroni Takape, who remained qualified until the end of the race —while other world class runners had dropped out.

“During stage one, I ran with Fijian marathon representative Kennol Narayan and he came second beating world-class ultrarunners — this to me was inspiration and soon we will have Kennol running world-class ultramarathons. For the final stage, we were joined by marathoners Raj Prasad and Sharmila Lata.”

Narayan and Raj came in first from the Fiji leisure runners team for the last stage.

Lata was the third woman to come in for the last stage. She only ran the last stage of the ultramarathon.

The Fiji runners ran with the ultra-runners to provide local camaraderie.

During the final stage Grimstrup lived up to the ultra’s hashtag #GetLost and ran an extra 11km after taking a wrong turn but still won the ultra.

Flynn said “The finish of the race, for me, was emotionally charged and absolutely epic. I was slightly deflated about my performance but happy to have done what I did.

“So there I was being interviewed by KTV when the winner of the race, Simon Grimstrup, walks up to me and, in front of the cameras, places his medal around my neck and stating publicly that I deserve a medal and that I should have his.

“Obviously, I refused but he was having none of it. An incredible act of kindness and sportsmanship, which mirrored the friendship and support I received from the moment I arrived in Fiji. I am truly blessed,” he said.