Taylor Simoneaux wins Tortola Torture as Thompson raises $26K

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Taylor Simoneaux, left and Sarah Latham won the 8th Tortola Torture on Saturday.

By Dean “The Sportsman” Grenaway.

Taylor Simoneaux of Louisiana, won Saturday’s 8th Tortola Torture, a 54Km (33.74 mile )run that started in Road Town and meandered the hills of Tortola, before finishing on Beef Island, while Sam Thompson completed his third Torture in three days and raised $26,000 for charity.

Simoneaux, who visited the BVI before, put the race on his bucket list after he learned of it from a friend on St. John, had a winning time of 4 hours 56 minutes and 54 seconds. He also won King of the Mountain, covering from Stoutt’s Look out to Sage Mountain in 27 minutes and 25.6 seconds.

Shaun John-Reardon was second in 6:13.48 with Phillippe Leroy third in 6:38.53.

“Being from Louisiana, the first thing that comes to mind is the monstrous hills here, but I was thinking throughout the race that it was a spiritual morning,” Simoneaux told Island Sun Sports. “The coolest thing was running through the different communities, seeing some of the back roads, seeing people living everyday life and getting to see a different side of Tortola than you see on the main roads. That was a blast. It’s hard to feel bad for yourself when you’re suffering when you’ve got these views—I can’t say it enough—it’s absolutely beautiful and breathtaking every time you turn the corner.”

After seeing the course Simoneaux said he set a five-hour time goal but had never run hard on mountains like on Tortola and didn’t know if he was going to blow up. He researched tidbits from previous winners, took their advice and it worked out, including not letting his heart rate go over 160-165 beats per minute.

“It was just emotional games all day. You get so high up that your ears pop and you can see the beach and know you’re going all the way back down and it’s beautiful on the ground,” he said. “The steepest part was coming out of Brewers Bay. I thought that was going to be the shorter hill because it’s less distanced, but it was much steeper. At some points, I was grabbing the guardrail to pull myself up, because it was so steep.”

Thompson, who finished sixth overall in 7:27.49, did what no one has ever done before—ran the course on three successive days starting on Thursday—including in reverse on Friday, raising funds for Protecting Animal Welfare (PAW).

“It made such a difference having so many people here today, the amount of people at the stops and the stations and everyone driving around, the lift you got from that, there was over three hours difference from yesterday and today’s time,” said Thompson who raised $26,275 for PAW. “There was a lot of support with guys coming out over the first two days, but I had about five hours on my own on Friday going up and down Brewers Bay and to Sage Mountain. That was a stretch where mentally, I barely hung on. I was very glad to get that done.”

Leroy was surprised by his third placed finish. “I was just trying to make it really,” he said. “I felt good going down to West End. I took it easy but no matter what, after about 30k, that was it for me. It was like survival. The downhills were horrible. It just hurt my legs and feet so much.”

Sarah Latham, who flirted with the idea of not even competing, won the Women’s division in 6:34.29, ahead Vicki Francis’ 7:10.09. St. Croix’s Nora Zedick was third in 7:29.43. Latham ran 37:07.9 to earn Queen of the Mountain.

“I’m really happy about the win because three days ago, I wasn’t even going to run it, so I’m surprised to win,” she said. “Two years ago, I led for 42 of the 54 kilometers, then faded and came second, so I was very happy to run faster than that 7:18 time and win.”

St. Croix’s Zdeick, who ran the course five years ago, said the course is 34 miles of hills. “I’ve done it twice and I think I’m retired from it,” she said. “Brewers Bay was really bad. I didn’t know where I was there for a minute and Little Mountain, that lollipop hill, that was horrifying. My main goal was not to die and I succeeded.”