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Bermuda Day race may get facelift with pandemic in mind

Scenes such as this will not be allowed at the finish line if the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon Derby goes ahead this year. Rose-Anna Hoey, the 2019 women’s winner, is congratulated by third-placed Deon Breary, left, and Martina Olcheski-Bell, who was runner-up (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Organisers of the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon are keeping their fingers crossed the event can go ahead in May, although it is likely to have a different look than in previous years because of Covid-19.

The race, which started back in 1909 and is the oldest and most popular on the racing calendar, draws several hundred runners and thousands of spectators along the route. However, this year’s event will likely be more about managing the numbers because of the pandemic, suggested Gina Tucker, president of the race committee.

“We are getting ready for the big race, and should it be a go, we will be ready,” Tucker said.

The Bermuda Day race is scheduled for May 28 and will come out of St George’s.

“Our plan is to open registration on February 1,” Tucker said. “Any plans will be subject to the Government’s decision with respect to Covid.

“We will have a special type of event; it won’t be as per normal and will be with the pandemic and health precautions in mind. We will be organising accordingly.

“We might look at the number of participants. We will look at how we actually organise the start of the race to avoid congregating and looking at waves at the start and ensuring that people disperse immediately at the finish; no congregating.”

Even at viewing spots along the route, the plan could be to manage the numbers with whatever restrictions are imposed by the health department at that time.

Tucker added: “We may discourage, even along the route, too much congregating, just so that people follow the protocol and keep the health and safety of the community in mind.

“Our lead sponsor, Argus, is keen to ensure the safety of participants and the community. Health is their No 1 priority and they want to ensure that people are not put in harm’s way as a result of this event.”

Ernest Peets, the new Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, said last week that a four-phase plan has been put in place to return to competitive sports in the coming weeks. The plan is at the second stage with stage four being labelled “Return to Play”.

In response to a question about the derby, Peets said: “We’re certainly aware of the calendar of events. Everyone knows that May is Heritage Month, so the Department of Culture is busy making plans for that.

“The word that we can use is Heritage Month will be ’reimagined’. We can only plan for Heritage Month based on current circumstances, but yes that conversation is ongoing.”

Tucker added: “If Bermuda continues on the current downward trend of Covid, hopefully we can enjoy that ’Bermudaful’ day.

“There may be a limit to the number of people who can participate but we will follow Covid precautions in how we manage and administer the event this year.”

The race missed only one other year, in 1915, because of the First World War.

The date of the race was changed in 2018 from the traditional May 24 to the Friday before the last Monday in the month to effect a long holiday weekend.

Lamont Marshall won the last race in 2019, his third triumph in four years, while Rose-Anna Hoey claimed a second women’s title in finishing 25th overall.

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Published January 25, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 25, 2021 at 12:45 pm)

Bermuda Day race may get facelift with pandemic in mind

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