At 7:15 a.m. sharp, hundreds of residents and visitors are going to run and walk across the island of St. John. Some may think, Hey, the island is only 7 miles in length; how tough can it be’ and others who are familiar with the inclines and hills of St. John might be saying, ‘WOW, that is a steep route’. A steep route it is; the course begins in Cruz Bay at sea level, and along the 8 mile route participants will reach elevations of some 999 feet, with approximately 1400 feet of elevation gain in the first 5.5 miles. Then it is back down to sea level as they make their way to Coral Bay via Centerline Road.
The 8 Tuff Mile Road Race was started in 1997 with 21 entrants. Over the years, it has gained popularity, and today it is the largest attended road race in the Virgin Islands. In 2009, there were 838 registered entries and 780 finishers. Age categories range from 12 and under to 70 and older in both women’s and men’s categories. In 2009, the youngest male was 5 years old, and the most senior was 76. For the women, the youngest was 6 years old, and the most senior was 80 years old. The record for women is 57.15 minutes and for men is 49.20 minutes.
Finisher medals and t-shirts are given to all participants who complete the race. Prizes are awarded to top female and male athletes, and awards are handed out in other categories. Every registered entry that completes the course on the morning of the race has a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree at Mongoose Junction. The top five women and the top five men will win a gift certificate valued at $100.00 from a local St. John restaurant. And for the first person to run the course in 48:02 or better, there is a $3,000 cash prize.
The race raises money and offers $4,600 in college scholarships to the winners of the three youngest age groups. The age groups and amounts of money awarded are as follows: 12 years and under $500.00 each, first male and female. The 13–16-year-old group will receive $800.00 for each first place male and female. Finally, the 17–19-year-old group will receive $1000.00 each for first place male and female. A total of 6 scholarship prizes are awarded each year. The race also benefits: St. John Rescue, Love City Pan Dragons of St. John, and St. John School of the Arts.
8 Tuff Miles is sponsored by Gatorade and the West Indies Corporation, as well as St. John businesses and individuals.
Persons interested must pre-register; there is no race-day registration. For more information about this challenging course visit 8 Tuff Miles Race.