Seventy-one runners took part in the 2021 KPMG Tortola Torture FU Covid edition. Twenty men and eleven ladies ran as individuals and there were five 2-person and ten 3-person teams. The day was hot, it was hard, it was the Torture!

Storming Sam Thompson, a 22-year old BVI newbie, caught organisers by surprise by winning the mens with a time of 06:11:37. Justin Smit, competing in his first ever running event, was second with a time of 06:29:26 and Toni Bonzon, who competed in a 2-person team last year, was third in 06:57:46.

Discussing the race, Sam said: “The race was really enjoyable during the first half, it allowed me to see half the island and views that I hadn’t been to before but then the second half seemed to drag on all day! I was absolutely overwhelmed by the support and organisation of the event. I arrived not knowing a single person there, but ended up being cheered, fed, watered and massaged by half of the population of Tortola by the end! I was also greeted by all my work colleagues at Grant Thornton and people that I’ve met so far at the finish when they heard I was running well, so that was fantastic too.

“I made the decision to run during my first night out from quarantine, after my new work colleagues got me very drunk and told me it wouldn’t be too bad! So, I had been doing a few 10k and 20k laps around Cane Garden to get some training in over the last month, once I realised what I’d signed up for!”

Justin, a non-runner until this event, said: “I was coerced into the Torture by our beloved RD Richard back on Christmas Day. I initially started to run after lock down in about June 2020 because my knees needed conditioning to come back and play squash which I really enjoy playing. At that time, the knees refused to cooperate but I persisted. I have never run any other marathons, that is the furthest I have ever run and could be back for more.

“I think everyone says they don’t race, but when you see someone in front of you, the urge is to catch them. I tried NOT to do that too much. I eventually caught up to a few people along the way and was quite honestly surprised that I even came in second.

“I have done a few training distances of 30 km / 28 and a few 20 km in various times of day to get a feel for the heat and humidity. It was a brutal hot day out there and I did end up with slight heat exhaustion with the chills and cold shakes in the evening. I could also potentially lose a few toenails from downhill pressure.”

Natasha “Tash” Ruscheinski, who, having competed in every Torture to date, scooped the womens with a time of 07:07:49. Caroline Sorrentino and Victoria Waterfield finished joint second, having run the race together, with a time of 7:33:28. Of the two favourites from last year, Jules Potgieter did not start due to injury and Johanna Murphy sadly retired 9km from the finish.

On her win, racing for the fourth time as an individual, Tash said: “Very unexpected win but absolutely delighted. I was just aiming to beat my last time, which I did and am very happy about that.

“We are very privileged to run in such a beautiful place, in a race where you know most people taking part and volunteering,” said Tash. Massive thank you to the organisers, and to all the volunteers and supporters on the day, who really make the race special.

“Congrats to everyone who took part, especially those running the whole thing for the first time. The longer you’re out there, the more difficult it is, so massive respect for everyone who was out there suffering in the heat. I love the Torture, it’s addictive. While you’re doing it you promise yourself never again but as soon as you finish you start plotting for the next year!”

J Blas Vega from Puerto Rico who was the only international competitor this year and put up with the 4-day quarantine to take part finished in 08:15:59. Shane Donovan the year’s Lanterne Rouge, started the race early and finished 10 hours and 2 minutes later. There were seven DNFs and one DNS.

JJ Ricketts and Paul Mellor were the top 2-person team (05:17:15), followed by brothers Phil and Matthew Nelson just over an hour later.

The Maybees, with a last minute substitution (Derek Rawlins – Iain Tucker – Debbie Bell), were top 3-person team with a time of 05:49:09. They were followed by Chafing the Dream (Christian Fay – Lizanne Havenga – Chris Farmer and SAG (Anna Kinkead – Gabriel Obrogon – Sergio Dantas)

The 2021 event is the second in the KPMG Tortola Torture FU series. The first was the FU Irma edition in 2018. Event organisers hope there will not be a third event in the series.

The KPMG Tortola Torture is a 33.74 mile (54km) ultramarathon that circumnavigates Tortola with only 22% on the flat, the rest is on hot and humid hills with 12,000 feet of elevation change. The steepest gradient is 33.33%. It has 6,587 feet of climbing over 12.8 miles, and 13.1 miles of descending. There is only 7.5 miles of flat running for the entire course.

This view-laden race started in Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, and wound its way clockwise around Tortola. The course took the runners along the flat south coast of Tortola with a stunning sunrise behind them, before heading around the off-road trails of Steele Point and Smuggler’s Cove, before joining the pavement again running along the north shore of Long Bay, Little Apple Bay and Carrot Bay.

Leaving Carrot Bay, runners then started the long 2.7 mile climb from sea level to Sage Mountain, the highest point of the race at 1,523 feet. Runners then headed back down to sea level and into Brewer’s Bay before climbing back up to the top of Tortola where they joined the Ridge Road.

Running along the Ridge Road in the growing heat of the day, competitors headed to the east end of the island eventually descending down to Beef Island, home of the airport, taking a nasty little loop around Little Mountain, before finishing on the beach in Trellis Bay.

Avery Collins from Colorado set a new record in the 2018 KPMG Tortola Torture. With a time of 4 hours, 35 minutes and 47 seconds, Avery took a handsome 9 minutes and 18 seconds off Eric Senseman’s 2016 record-setting time (04:45:05).

THE KPMG Tortola Torture continues its ban of disposable bottles on the race course this year. By using reusable 5-gallon jugs and coolers, organisers eliminate the use of over 1,200 half litre bottles of water.

VISAR (Virgin Islands Search & Rescue) provided medical on-course medical support with three roving teams. Dr Annelise Lawton was at the finish to check the finishers and provide any required any additional aid if required.

The KPMG Tortola Torture is open to individuals, two-person, and three-person relay teams.  

Title sponsor KPMG provides audit, tax and advisory services together with industry insight to help organizations negotiate risks and perform in the dynamic and challenging environments in which they do business.

Mourant, platinum sponsor, is a leading offshore law firm, advising on the laws of the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey.

Road Town Wholesale is the official food and beverage supplier. Kanberra Gel is the official sanitizing and freshness sponsor.

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