Labour Day Race waiting for safety approval
The traditional season-opening Labour Day Road Race next Monday could be called off as the Bermuda National Athletics Association awaits approval to safety documents sent to Renée Ming, the Health and Safety Minister.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which has already forced the cancellation of several top sporting events this year, including the Carifta Games in April, is threatening to disrupt the start of the new athletics season.
BNAA officials are anxious for a productive season as they builds towards the rescheduled Carifta Games, which Bermuda will again attempt to host next April.
“What we did was create Covid-19 guidelines for track events and training, based on information we received from World Athletics,” Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, said.
“We researched and got information from several governing bodies around the world and put together our guidelines based on what would fit for Bermuda.
“I sent those guidelines out last week to the Department of Youth and Sports, the Health Department and to Minister Ming yesterday to get final approval on that document for races from September to December, which includes the cross country and road races.
“It has to be approved by the National Security Ministry, and it’s unlikely we’ll have the documents approved by Monday and sent out.”
Raynor added: “At the starting line there will be waves of, say, 20 people at most, with each wave starting at a different time.
“We’ll basically do it with the top runners in the first wave. They will have to wear their masks up to the starting line, although they can take them off to warm up. All officials, volunteers and spectators will have to social distance and wear masks.
“Government isn’t letting that many people mingle together anyway so hopefully it will just be pockets of family members standing together and rooting for their family member.”
The cross-country series, which is set to start on September 29 at the Arboretum, will have a shortened series, Raynor revealed.
“Usually we have six or seven events but now we will have three and then the National Championships.
“Our goal is to have a couple of mini track meets between September and December, limited to a few events. Even on the track it will be every other lane for the athletes, and we’re trying to stick to those guidelines for now.”
Raynor is confident Bermuda will be able to host the 49th Carifta Games next year.
This year’s event was cancelled three weeks before the scheduled date over safety concerns as Covid-19 cases surged worldwide.
Crowd size is now a major consideration with Bermuda set to welcome athletes from 27 Caribbean countries.
Raynor stressed that safety is paramount, although she admits Carifta without spectators will not be the same.
“We may have to make TV coverage broader, which may be a good thing for Bermuda,” she said. “I did have my first meeting with the Nacac president Mike Sands and general secretary Keith Joseph last month and we would like to have the Games, but of course that depends on where we are with Covid-19.”
Raynor is in her tenth year as BNAA president and was looking forward to celebrating that milestone by hosting her second Carifta Games as BNAA president.
“We’re looking at different options, spectators or no spectators,” she said, noting that they were expecting spectators from overseas.
“There are many different variables right now. By December we will be able to make a decision on how we’re going to move forward with the event.
“Our hope is we can, but it’s going to be based on Government, and dependent on how the [overseas] athletes are able to travel.
“One thing we discussed with them was coming directly to Bermuda on charters.
She added: “Our goal is to have the Games, but how we’re going to have it we don’t know. It depends on Government and where we are with the pandemic ... in the islands and in Bermuda. The plus for us was we were three weeks away from hosting the  Games, so everything is in place.
“The hotels is something we are keeping our eye on as well. We would prefer to have the teams all accommodated in one place, so they can go directly from the hotel to the track.
“However, with that we have to look at transportation as we are still in a place where only a certain amount of people can ride the bus.
“If we do get to host the Games, our medical budget will also increase. It’s good that a couple of other sporting events, football and golf, being held before Carifta, so we’ll keep an eye on the events”
Still to be finalised is whether athletes who qualified will have those qualifying standards and times carried forward to next year. Also whether there can be special events for athletes who would have “aged out” after this year’s Games but who did not get the chance to compete for a final time.
Bermuda has two athletes who qualified but will now be too old to compete next year.
One of them is middle-distance runner Isabelle Dutranoit who reached the qualifying mark in the 3,000 metres at a meet in South Carolina in January.
The Wake Forest University student shaved five seconds off her Bermuda 3,000 record at a meet hosted by the University of Notre Dame in March with a time of 9min 45.62sec.
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