Racing into uncertainty
Blueberry Harvest run in Harbour Grace faces unsettled future
For 26 years the annual Blueberry Harvest Run, held every September in Harbour Grace, has attracted health conscious locals and elite runners from across the province. In recent years, however, the event has run into some trouble.
Suffering from a lack of volunteers and official leadership, the 10kilometre race lost its official status with the Newfoundland Labrador Athletic Association (NLAA) this year, a circumstance that will likely deter many from entering the event.
Why is it no longer an NLAA sanctioned event?
“ We never received an application,” George Stanoev, technical director with the NLAA, told The Compass last week
“ Every November (the NLAA) holds a meeting to set our event calendar for the following year. If there is a committee in Harbour Grace, they never approached us.”
This lapse in organization may have far-reaching implications. Not only does NLAA status attract elite runners from across the province, but the association also provides insurance coverage for their races.
Pat Collins, a volunteer and longtime participant with the Blueberry Harvest Run, said the race failed to get the certification because they have no official leadership.
“ We’re looking for a co-coordinator,” he said. “ We really need a group of volunteers to keep this going.”
Collins hopes that after the Carbonear triathlon is complete on July 17, more volunteers will step forward to organize the Harbour Grace race.
Until an official committee is in place, Collins has asked the Town of Harbour Grace to sanction the run as an official town event, which means the race would be covered by its insurance.
Collins still believes the race can be a success, even without official certification from the NLAA.
“It’s always been a very enjoyable event,” he said. “ There will be some elite runners that may not run, but the purpose is to get people involved for fitness and healthy living.”
Collins hopes that with more volunteers, the race can be re-certified next year.
“Being NLAA sanctioned is not a big issue for us. We can get that reestablished in a few months,” he said.
More than a race
George Stanoev is less optimistic. He said the Harbour Grace event has been struggling “since the mid-90s.”
Their troubles, he said, go deeper then a few missed forms.
“ We all enjoy the race,” he said of the Blueberry Run, “ but our policy is to support only established running clubs.”
Beyond an annual race, he added, these clubs need to organize regular training and events throughout the year. They also need to do their own fundraising and support local athletes and coaches.
“ You have to be interested in developing the sport in the community,” Stanoev said. “ That’s missing in Harbour Grace.”