Let’s save the Blue­berry Run

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

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

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