The weather may have been rather more Kinross than Kingston, but the community in Brixton has warmed to the challenge to find the fastest man, woman and child in town this afternoon.
Hundreds turned out in the shadow of the Rec, in Popes Road, earlier as runners of all ages battled to become the greatest athlete and soak up the applause of the crowds over 100m.
Winner of the over 40’s category, Paul Marriot, had more than a passing resemblance to the great Usain Bolt himself.
Clad in a full Jamaican running suit, Marriot told the Blog: “I am the greatest man in Brixton – I’ve just proved it. It was pretty close at the end but I always thought I was going to win – I have real bragging rights now!”
The athlete lapped up the crowd’s applause as he did press ups and the “lightening bolt” after the race.
Men’s winner Andre Nembhard, 28, also proved a massive hit. The final was hard fought fir first place between him and contender Calvin McLeish, who came a close second.
“I can’t really put it into words,” he told us as he got his breath back. “I have been training hard for two months for this race, and now I have done it.
“I got knocked by someone at the start and I nearly fell over in a massive dip in the road but I pulled through and I just knew I would win.”
Nembhard promised to return next year to defend his title as Brixton Bolt. He added: “The Brixton Bolt has put Brixton on the map. It is great for the community.”
The course, perhaps not quite 100m-long, stretched the northern length of Popes Road, which had been closed by the council to allow the race to take place. Despite an arctic northerly wind funneling down the street, it was lined with noisy supporters – and even a vuvezela or two.
Organisers tell us they plan to come back next year, with spectators calling for a mini Brixton Olympics to find the fastest, strongest, bestest person in a number of events.
Community stalwart Devon Thomas told the Blog: “This whole event has captured that Brixton spirit – it’s a celebration of the community and it promotes the best of Brixton on what would otherwise be a damp October afternoon.
The women’s winner, Hannah Riley, was initially rendered speechless by her victory, before saying: “I am very knackered – but I’m over the moon to have won.
And the title for fastest family in Brixton had to go to Calvin McLeish (second in the mens final) and his mum, Harmony McLeish who stormed home to be named fastest woman over 40 in town.
Harmony said: “I really thought Calvin was going to win at one point. He had a good start but the other guy was a quicker finisher.”
The day was an utter triumph for organiser Tom Shakhli and his team of volunteers who had to overcome all sorts of problems to put on the event. If it wasn’t for Tom’s vision and tireless energy, and the Brixton community’s amazing response (there weren’t many bars or restaurants who didn’t donate prizes to the winners) the event would never happened. As it stands everyone who took part, and more besides, are waiting in anticipation for Brixton Bolt 2013. You should get training now – Cool Running-style.
Here are a few pictures we snapped on iPhones, but keep your eyes peeled for a gallery coming soon with pics by Jeannine Mansell.