Let’s save the Blueberry Run
There’s no real soft way to say it. The annual Blueberry Harvest road race in Harbour Grace is on life support, and is very close to fading into obscurity.
That’s too bad, and something should be done about it.
Every fall for the past 27 years, the race has been attracting runners of all ages and abilities, but has experienced a decline in popularity in recent years.
One reason for this slump is a shortage of volunteers to help keep it afloat.
And in the latest sign of its imminent demise, we learned recently that the race will not be sanctioned by the Newfoundland and Labrador Athletic Association (NLAA) this year. Why? Because no one filed the proper application.
As such, don’t expect to see any elite runners from other regions of the province participating, since there won’t be any points to collect in the Timex road race series.
One bright spot
Last year’s event attracted some 130 participants, a noticeable decline from the 167 people who took part in 2009, the 25th anniversary of the race.
One bright spot last year was the growing number of entries in the three-kilometre race for young people.
But there are more NLAA road races than ever being staged throughout the province, which means more competition for the Blueberry Harvest run.
If you check out the NLAA website, you’ll find there are 19 road running events from April to November of this year, with the vast majority in the St. John’s region.
And if you listen to George Stanoev, technical director with the NLAA, the Trinity Conception Athletic Club, which has overseen the Blueberry Harvest run, is falling short of what’s expected of it.
Stanoev said the NLAA’s policy is to support established running clubs that organize regular training and events throughout the year, and support local athletes and coaches.
Stanoev was blunt when asked for his assessment of the Harbour Grace group.
“ You have to be interested in developing the sport in the community. That’s missing in Harbour Grace,” he said. Ouch. The question now is whether local running enthusiasts throw up their hands and let the event die. Or use these latest turn of events as motivation to save the race. We believe it should be the latter. Sure, it’s a long shot. It’s not like our streets are lined with joggers every morning, like we see in some other jurisdictions.
But judging by the growing number of young people taking part in the Blueberry Harvest run, there is a future for the event.
We just hope those with an interest in seeing it survive into the future will find the help and support they need to make it happen.
— Terry Roberts, Compass editor