Rac­ing into un­cer­tainty

Blue­berry Har­vest run in Har­bour Grace faces un­set­tled fu­ture

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMIKA REKAI

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.”

Lack­ing lead­er­ship

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.”

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