Record turnout for Run for Pompey, more than 300 run, walk and unite for Exuma

Under skies that dropped a soft spitting rain and ground packed with the pounding of rubber-clad feet, more than 300 men, women, teens and children took part in the 8th Run for Pompey, November 12.

The event took place in Georgetown, Exuma, with festivities in Regatta Park and a race that took runners and walkers by the famed waters of Elizabeth Harbour and for those who ran the full half marathon, around some 13 miles of the historic island in the Central Bahamas.
“This was a record turnout,” said Run for Pompey co-founder Jeff Todd, who ran. “I think people were just so glad to see it back after two years virtual races during the pandemic. It was just great.”

The race drew runners from the far corners of the globe, many timing the trip they wanted to make to see the world-famous swimming pigs.

“It was amazing how many couples or families planned their swim with the pigs experience around the time of the race so they could do both,” said Todd, a Canadian author who co-founded the run with screenwriter and cinematographer Kevin Taylor of Nassau.

The name pays homage to the slave Pompey who risked his own life to try to protect slave families that were going to be torn apart. Today, the statue of what is supposed to be Pompey and the heritage site are the subject of renewed interest but there is little controversy over Pompey being the hero of Exuma more than 150 years after his act of courage.

Among those who made the trek from afar to participate in the run was Kathleen Whelan, a recently retired librarian from El Paso, Texas.

“I have a pot-bellied pig at home and ever since I retired in June, I have been going to as many races as I possibly can,” she said, “This one I had to do for sure because tomorrow I am going to see the swimming pigs and take a selfie with the picture of my pig and me in the water with the pigs of Exuma.” Like a globe-trotter in sweats, shorts and sneakers, she was one of many visitors who filled rooms across the island, including at luxury resorts Sandals and Grand Isle Villas.

It was also the first time a potential sister city, Cincinnati, sent race event organizers to observe.

“For us, the flying pig race is a year-round series of events that provides substantial funds for community causes, education, health and other needs,” explained Iris Bush. The Ohio city’s acclaimed ‘flying pigs’ events grew out of its turn of the century massive stockyards and slaughterhouses.

Run for Pompey also attracted the fitness celeb circuit from the winner of the Miami Marathon Frankie Ruiz to the glamourous and strong in spirit, Mrs. Canada, Solange Tuyishime, a Rwandan refugee who went on to found Elevate international, Canada.

But it was the faces of Exuma youngsters that stole the hearts of those who watched — the speed of some, the grit and determination of others.

As one fourth grader put it, “I running hard, real hard cause my brother could maybe win the scholarship.”

In the past, Run for Pompey has raised funds to award a $5,000 scholarship to a promising student from Exuma. During COVID, the virtual run helped pay for food for hundreds of meals and purchase tablets for students to work on from home.

That Miami marathon winner, who also took the title in the last Run for Pompey, Ruiz, 44, had the fastest overall time for the half marathon, taking the top spot among the men with a time of 1:38:14, while Caitlin Scuderi, 36, placed first out of the women with a time of 1:39:49. In the 10k, Lincoln Jolley, 59, placed first among the men, with a time of 53:54, and Melissa Goldschmidt, 47, was the first woman to cross the finish line with a time of 1:08:00.

Keith Russell, 31, took the top spot among men over 19 in the 5k, finishing with a time of 24:02. Among the women over 19, Carla Duenas, 34, placed first with a time of 27:05. But it was one the younger participants to outperformed everyone else, as 10-year-old Clinton Romer took first place in the 5k for under 18 males with a time of 23:26. Iantha Rolle, 15, finished first out of the 18 and under females with a time of 36:35.

In the 2k race, 13-year-old Jayden Clear placed first among the 18 and under males, and his time of 6:11 was also the fastest of all the participants. Nine-year-old Ra’Nahiah Charlton came first among the 18 and under females and her 8-minute finish was also the fastest time of the females in all age groups. In the 19 and over male category for the 2k race, Theodore Martin, 40 placed first, with a time of 7:50. In the 2k 19 and over female division, Lorna Pratt, 50, took first with a time of 14:46.

As for the retired librarian from El Paso, Texas, just finishing a race in Exuma in The Bahamas was a dream come true.

Exuma race to set ‘new record’ on Nov 12th

Exuma’s tourism product is expected to receive a much-needed boost next month when the Exuma Half Marathon returns, with a record number of runners ready to depart from Regatta Park.

With the 8th annual race fully in person, the event’s organizers say there has been unprecedented enthusiasm from tourists and locals alike.

“The last two years or so have been hard on everyone,” says Jeff Todd, who founded the Exuma Half Marathon, Featuring the Run for Pompey, with Kevin Taylor in 2015.

“It’s clear that people are excited to be back to in person for this outdoor event. We are expecting 300 plus runners, which would be a new record for us. Our sponsors have also stepped up in a big way, so this year we are just seeing a big outpouring of support from both the community and tourists eager to be back in Exuma. Meanwhile, as a non-profit, every dollar collected from registrations will go towards a great cause.”

Exuma Half Marathon raises funds for The Pompey Scholarship, awarded in June to one graduating student from LN Coakley High School in Exuma, so he or she can pursue post-secondary education that fall. Students must submit an application to a school committee, demonstrating a financial need and why this scholarship will make a difference in their lives.

Eairik Bullard, who received the award last summer, cited the death of his mother as his inspiration to succeed.

“She was a huge supporter of my academic endeavours and she helped to push me to greater heights,” Bullard writes. “Her wishes for my life are what pushes me to do better every day – going to college, graduating with a degree and living my dreams. I made a silent promise to myself that I would complete her dreams for my life and make her proud of me on that graduation stage.”

A total of eight scholarships have been awarded since 2015, Todd adds.

The Run for Pompey, a community run of just 2km around the pond in George Town, and annual The Pompey Scholarship, are named after Pompey, the slave who in 1830 led a rebellion on Exuma. Thanks to his courage and resilience, Pompey stopped the transfer of 77 men, women and children off the island.

This resistance is now considered a key precursor to emancipation in The Bahamas, which occurred in August 1938.

Fast forward to 2022, Exuma Half Marathon has become an anticipated date on the tourism calendar. On November 12th, four races will leave from Regatta Park, including a 2K, 5K, 10K and half marathon.

All runners will receive a commemorative t-shirt, swag bag and the coveted “Piggie Medal”, a tip of the hat to the world-famous swimming pigs.

Pauline Davis, double gold medalist and The Bahamas’ original “golden girl”, will once again serve as event patron, draping a Piggie Medal around each and every neck that crosses the finish line.

“Returning to Exuma and being event patron was an easy decision,” the Bahamian icon explains, who released her memoir earlier this year, Running Sideways: The Olympic Champion Who Made Track and Field History. “This event ticks all the boxes, in my view. It supports the island and brings in tourism dollars. It teaches us history and supports a student every year. And it brings our communities together. I can’t wait to see everyone in November.”

This year, Exuma Half Marathon will feature a festival atmosphere in Regatta Park, Taylor adds, who also serves as Race Director.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is stepping up to provide live entertainment, food stalls, activities for children and other attractions once the race is over, with the celebration going well into the afternoon.

“Whether you are a runner or not, there will be something for everyone,” Taylor says.

The event is supported by a dedicated group of supporters, including: GIV Bahamas, BAF Financial & Insurance, Sands Beer, Caribbean Bottling Company Limited (Dasani and Powerade), Friends of Exuma, Glinton, Sweeting O’Brien, Diane Phillips & Associates, Aliv, Grand Isle Resort & Residences, Peace & Plenty, Exuma Markets, Chat N Chill, Cash N Go, and Athletica.

To register, runners can visit the event’s website (, or sign up in person in the lead up to the race.

Exuma virtual race raises $12,000 for COVID relief, food, tablets

– The Nassau Guardian

It is often said that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Next month, hundreds of people will not gather at Regatta Park on Exuma for the sixth Annual Exuma Half Marathon, featuring the Run for Pompey. This gathering of runners from all around the world traditionally provides an economic boost to the island and raises funds for an annual scholarship so a bright young Bahamian can attend the University of The Bahamas (UB).

Nevertheless, while the big race on Exuma won’t happen this year due to concerns over COVID-19, the spirit of giving is alive and well. In lieu of a registration fee, participants have been registering online to “run virtually” in their home cities, generating more than $12,000 so far for the Exuma Food Bank and tablets for students.

“Exuma is a special place. Those who have visited before understand that the people are just as beautiful as the island’s world-class beaches and water,” said Peter Nicholson, president of GIV Bahamas Inc., the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort and founder of the Exuma Half Marathon. “We knew a race with big crowds wouldn’t be possible this year, so we decided to hold a virtual race and the response has been fantastic. People from all walks of life, around the world, want to sign up and give back to those in need.”

Last weekend, Member of Parliament for the Exumas and Ragged Island Chester Cooper accepted a check of more than $10,000 for the Exuma Food Bank from Dean Spychalla, owners’ representative at Grand Isle Resort & Spa. Although the event is not until November 21, event organizers were keen to make a donation right away so the funds could be put to use.

Donations will go toward food baskets for hundreds of people on the island, including basic necessities such as flour, rice, water, milk and canned goods.

Another $1,240 donation will allow 10 Exuma students to receive new tablets, with organizers, including race patron Pauline Davis-Thompson, noting the connectivity between a virtual race for a virtual education cause.

Participants can learn more and register their team by visiting the event’s website.

“These are hard times for all Bahamians,” said Cooper whose company, BAF Financial & Insurance, has served as title sponsor of the event since its inception. “It is comforting to know that those that have visited our shores for this event are still thinking of the island. We thank these donors from the bottom of our hearts. These donations will go a very long way to helping Exumians get through this pandemic.”

This year, the virtual race allows runners to suit up in official Run For Pompey T-shirts and participate in the Pompey Dash, a five-mile (eight-kilometer) walk or run in support of the Exuma Food Bank of Leno Learning Link, an official partner of the Ministry of Education to support distance learning by providing a tablet or computer to as many students in The Bahamas as possible.

Runners are encouraged to share their experience on social media and share why they choose to “Run for Pompey”.

The race is named after Pompey, a 32-year-old slave who in 1830 led a rebellion on Exuma to stop the transfer of 77 men, women and children – an act that would have separated families from their loved ones. Pompey’s movement helped stop the transfer order, and today, it is widely seen as a key moment in the Bahamian fight for freedom.

Led by title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited, Exuma Half Marathon has also been supported by The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Diane Phillips & Associates, Grand Isle Resort & Spa, Sands Beer, Aliv, Caribbean Bottling Company,, Chat N Chill, Ty’s Sunset and Grill and others.

Legendary “Golden Girl” Davis-Thompson has served as the event’s patron from the beginning. In past years, she would visit all the schools on the island to give inspirational speeches, and personally drape commemorative medals around the necks of runners as they cross the finish line.

The event has become an important tradition for the island, and one that event organizers still wanted to commemorate while also doing something positive for the community.

Nicholson added that, although registration fees will go toward the food bank this year, the Exuma Foundation of Canada will still award the usual Pompey Scholarship to a worthy recipient next summer, so yet another young Bahamian will have a chance to attend UB.

“COVID-19 may have driven us more apart physically, but it can also bring us closer together,” he said.

The race, which allows runners from around the world to show their support for Exuma, is set to return to the island itself in a more tangible capacity next year.

Member of Parliament for the Exumas and Ragged Island Chester Cooper, right, accepts a check of $10,800 for the Exuma Food Bank from Dean Spychalla, owners’ representative at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, as funds gathered for the virtual running of the 6th Annual Exuma Half Marathon, featuring the Run for Pompey. Additional proceeds from the virtual race supported by runners from around the world will purchase tablets for Exuma students. This is the sixth year the Run for Pompey will be held and the first time it is a virtual marathon. There’s still time for more registrations, which are converted into donations to the community. ROBERT SANDS/GRAND ISLE


Se original story posted here















BibRave Podcast: Blue Water, White Beaches, and a Marathon

This week is all about the BibRave Bahamas Getaway and the Exuma Marathon! Tim, Jess, and Andy share details of their 7 days at the Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, and all the events they experienced as part of the getaway and the Run for Pompey Marathon. They then dive into their other Exuma adventures and explorations – from petting stingrays, spotting turtles in the wild, and the most amazing rum cake! Listen in for all the details!

Jump to the podcast here:

Exuma Marathon sells out

November 14, 2018

For the first time in its history, the Exuma Marathon was able to announce the two sweetest words for any event in The Bahamas: sold out.

Nearly 250 runners from as far away as Holland and Ireland packed the starting line last Saturday in Exuma, all united in a race that has become a highly anticipated staple in the Bahamian tourism calendar.
Not a single shirt or race number was left over, inspiring last-minute runners to simply jump into the crowd, just to participate.

Young and old, tourist and Bahamian, swift runners and  slow walkers all set off to pay homage to Pompey, the heroic slave who led a rebellion on the island almost 200 years ago.

“This is a special event,” said Doug Flannery, the Senior Director of Operations of the TCS New York City Marathon, who flew in with a group just to experience it.

“It has a distance for every level of fitness that will challenge even the most seasoned athletes.

The community involvement and Exuma hospitality makes this a must-do destination race. It’s a certainty that the event will again sell out in 2019. We are honored to participate alongside the Exuma Marathon team.”

The New York City Marathon typically attracts around 50,000 runners, making it the largest of its kind in the world.

But it is exactly the community integration, cultural relevance and authenticity of Exuma Marathon that makes this event special in the eyes of tourists.

Before the race on Nov 10th, tourists like Flannery took in all the attractions of Exuma, including the now world-famous swimming pigs. image

Hotels, tour boat operators, taxi drivers and restaurants all benefited from the sold-out event.

Once again, Pauline Davis-Thompson, the two-time Bahamian gold medalist, joined the race to drape a medal around each and every neck that crossed the finish line.

“This is the only event I’ve been involved with where you get to dance at the finish, receive your medal from an Olympic gold medalist and enjoy the warmth of the Bahamian spirit at every turn,” said Lacie Flannery, Event Director at the Advocate health Care International Chicago 5K Race. “Add that to the bluest shades of ocean you’ve ever seen as a backdrop and you have an event that is truly paradise.”

Exuma Marathon features races for all ages, with the most impressive being the Run for Pompey, a grueling 50K race.

This year, in striking solidarity, Michelle Gibson and Shavaughn Blades, from Nassau, crossed the finish line together with a time of 6:39:47. Elaine McAunulty, from Ireland, won the full marathon with a time of 5:55:14. image

Other races included a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2K “George Town Dash”, making the event accessible for young children and older participants.

At its core, Exuma Marathon focuses on community engagement and offering an integral, cultural experience for all.

Last Saturday was the 4th installment.  Exuma Marathon is completely non-profit, with proceeds from the race going towards the annual Pompey Scholarship, awarded to a student in Exuma each year so he or she can attend college or university. Most recently, Deyonte Ferguson from L N Coakley took home the prize, and she is now attending Holland College in Prince Edward Island in the east coast of Canada.

“There is no doubt that this was our best year yet,” said Kevin Taylor, who founded the race with Jeff Todd, the Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas Inc.

“I think the sky is the limit for Exuma Marathon. It is a comimagemunity effort in every sense of the word, from our volunteers, to the nurses at the hospital, the police officers and countless others that help us put it together.”

The race is supported by its four-time title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance.

Other sponsors include GIV Bahamas Inc., the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Aliv, Sands Beer, Caribbean Bottling Company, Grand Isle Resort, Peace & Plenty, The Swimming Pig, Catch A Fire, Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill, Glinton, Sweeting O’Brien, BahamasLocal, Breezes, Cash N Go and Diane Phillips and Associates.

Exuma Marathon also partnered with the Bahamas Half, presented by Bahamas Roadmasters, which kicks off from Arawak Cay in Nassau on November 18th at 6am.

The next Exuma Marathon is scheduled for November 9th, 2019.

‘Stunned’ Rolle receives Pompey Scholarship

Third time’s a charm as Run for Pompey – October 6 to October 8 –  welcomes a new sponsor and partnership with National Family Island Regatta

A senior at L N Coakley High School in Exuma became the second recipient of The Pompey Scholarship this week, with ambitious plans to study in Canada this fall and return to Exuma as a primary school educator.

Demi Rolle, whose favourite subjects include English and history, will join her friend Troyann Forbes, the first winner of this scholarship, at Acadia University on the Canadian east coast.

“I was really just stunned. Me? Really? When they called my name, I couldn’t believe it. It was really exciting,” Rolle said, who picked up her over-sized cheque at L N Coakley’s graduation ceremony, held at Sandals Emerald Bay last Tuesday.


From left: Chester Cooper, MP of Exuma and Ragged Island and President of BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited, Demi Rolle, the winner of The Pompey Scholarship and Lynmore Taylor from GIV Bahamas Inc.


“I plan to come back home [to Exuma],  but I want to get that experience abroad as well and then perhaps open up my own pre-school when I return. I heard it is very nice in Canada and I have friends over there.”


Rolle’s big win is the end result of last year’s Run for Pompey, the second installment in an annual event that is rapidly becoming a fixture on the sports tourism calendar.

As the old saying goes, the third time’s a charm. The next Run for Pompey, taking place over National Heroes Day Weekend from October 6 to October 8 in Exuma, promises to be largest yet, featuring a new collaboration with the National Family Island Regatta. On October 7, or race day, runners from The Bahamas and abroad will be treated to a festival atmosphere in the park with a full bar, food stalls, Bahamians entertainment and a “mini-regatta” in Elizabeth Harbour.

1-IMG_0673Run for Pompey is also thrilled to announce a new sponsor of the event. Aliv, the emerging telecommunications company, will become a valued supporter.

The event is led by title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited and MRI Nassau.

GIV Bahamas Inc., the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Grand Isle Resort, Sands Beer, Caribbean and Bottling Company, Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill, Catch A Fire, Chat N’ Chill,, SuperClubs Breezes and Diane Phillips & Associates round out Run for Pompey’s strong network of sponsors.

Legendary “Golden Girl” Pauline Davis-Thompson will serve as Run for Pompey’s patron for the third consecutive time, draping medals around each and every neck at the finish line. She also provides a special keynote address at Grand Isle’s pasta night for runners the night before the race.

“The level of support for this event has been outstanding,” said Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., who founded the race with Kevin Taylor, the owner of DreamKatcher Media. “With the race as its centerpiece, Pompey is growing into a weekend-long celebration of Bahamian history and culture. The fact it takes place on National Heroes Day Weekend only makes Run for Pompey more poignant. Registration is already very strong and we expect a huge turnout in our third year.”

In 1830, Pompey, a 32-year-old slave, defied a transfer order on Exuma that would have separated 77 men, women and children from their families. While his rebellion was eventually squashed, it is widely seen as a key moment in the Bahamian fight for freedom.

To commemorate his memory, Run for Pompey features races for all ages, skill levels and abilities, including the 2K “George Town Dash”, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon and the country’s first and only 50K ultra marathon. All races are professionally timed. Past events have attracted hundreds of runners from various countries, including Canada, the United States, the UK and The Bahamas.

Don Barr, the principal of L N Coakley High School, believes the history of Pompey is an essential ingredient in the event and the educational process.

1-IMG_0779“From the historical aspect of it, students know of Pompey, and the fact there is a whole committee and event surrounding it all, that in itself deserves praise,” he explained. “These scholarships means a lot to us. I believe it will inspire more students to do the same thing and follow in Demi’s footsteps.”

With two Pompey Scholarship winners now at Acadia University, the approach appears to be working, as students from Exuma continue to write their own page in the Pompey history books.

The donation will be paid directly to Acadia University on Rolle’s behalf by the Exuma Foundation of Canada.

To learn more about the Run for Pompey and sign up for the 2017 event, you can visit its website at