The last Saturday in February might be the busiest time on St John! Why? Because every year, more than 1,000 runners come to the island to participate in 8 Tuff Miles. They race from the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay to the Coral Bay ballpark. The Island Abodes team has run (well really walked) this race several times and it is always a blast! Organizations have water stations throughout the 8 miles. Volunteers dress up, play fun music, and some water stations have shots and beer for you to enjoy!
The challenge in this race is the hilly terrain. The event begins with an uphill climb from Cruz Bay, there are flat portions and hills in the middle, followed by a long, downhill finish to Coral Bay. The heat is also a factor that makes the eight miles along St. John’s Centerline Road so tough.
Participants have three hours to complete the course, and the time passes quickly, even for the slowest walkers.
History of the race from the 8 Tuff Website:
Upon returning to St. John in September 1996, I was trying to quit smoking, and I decided to punish myself by running and hopefully then realize that my body and lungs were beaten 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 too 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 the island that winter. We had 25 t-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.
Book your place to stay now for the 2020 race! www.islandabodes.com