Sports — 30 January 2015
Athletics past and present – Bob Lightburn Holy Saturday Half Marathon

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 21, 2015–This year marks the revival of a prestigious and traditional race that was a big part of the Easter holidays. This race, spanning over 54 years, was known as the Annual Holy Saturday Half Marathon Classic. This race was won by many great and legendary runners over the years, runners like Joseph Carr, Eugene Mushlar, William Mahler, Aubrey Solomon, just to name a few; but the man that stands out, and is one of the earliest and a pioneer in this race, and who holds the record for the best time, and for long distance running on a whole, and whom this race was recently named after in his honor, is Mr. Bob Lightburn, who won this race 3 times.

In 2011 the name of the race was changed to the “Bob Lightburn Annual Holy Saturday Half Marathon Classic.”

This year, the race will be held on Holy Saturday, April 4. This column, “Athletics past and present,” was first written back in 2011 to 2012 featuring runners of old and new to educate and honor our athletes. This year, I am writing this column again, going back to as far as the 1940s and up to the present athletes; but I want to start with Mr. Bob Lightburn. It seems only fitting, with the approach of the upcoming race that honors him.

(The article below was first printed in the Amandala of Sunday, May 22, 2011.)

Athletics past and present – Bob Lightburn, by Darwin Rhaburn

BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 18, 2011

They say God made man equally, but in my view he made an exception when it came to Mr. Bob Lightburn. This man was an extraordinary athlete who knew no limits. He went to Wesley High School in 1955-1958.

Mr. Lightburn ran his first race in 1958 at Edwards Park, which is now known as Rogers Stadium. This took place on September the 10th and it was a 1 mile race. He came in first; the race ended up in a dead-heat.*

1959- 1961 he ran only half marathons (13.1 miles); he came in first. In 1960, a guy named Mr. Carter sponsored the half marathon. In this race they had two Germans that were very good runners. He defended the Jewel and defeated both of the foreign runners and came in first in a time of 1:20. He stated that on that particular day it was extremely hot, and the Germans took a beating in that sun; he laughed when he told me that. In 1961, he did not run any race due to Hurricane Hattie.

1962-1965 he ran the half marathon, and in all those years he came in first. In 1962, he did an impressive time of 1:18. In 1963, he did 1:15; and in ‘65 he ran 1:13.

He told me he went to run a mile race in Jamaica and he did the mile in 4:44. In the years ‘66 to ’68, he continued dominating until he went to the States in 1968; that was his last race ever.

He stated that his father, the late Hermon Lightburn, was his inspiration and the person who trained and pushed him. Presently, he does not partake in any races, but he said sometimes he thinks about giving it one more try.

On Holy Saturday, we had a race dedicated to him, where he gave out the prizes. This race will be an annual thing – The Lightburn Classic Half Marathon.

His advice to the athletes of today is train hard and train smart; nothing is impossible as long as you work hard.

Just want to say thanks to Mr. Lightburn. I sat with him on more than one occasion, and he has a wealth of knowledge. You will need to write a book to tell it all…

Until next week, have a safe and healthy week.

(Ed. Note: *Bob said he thinks his opponent in 1958 was named Frank Coleman. They met in subsequent half marathon races, which were then held at the MCC Grounds, and Bob prevailed.)

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