Talented American juniors to race alongside young Bermudians in XC Challenge
Jason-Lamont Jackson is relishing the opportunity to host the inaugural Bermuda XC Challenge and lay the foundation for future international meets to be held on island.
The race, being held in conjunction with the Bermuda National Youth Cross Country Championships, will see a highly-talented field of visiting athletes from the United States competing in four pre-qualified races over a 3.1-mile course at the Botanical Gardens on Saturday.
Jackson, a fully certified USA Track & Field and International Association of Athletics Federation coach, is excited to give the visiting high-school athletes an exciting experience overseas.
“We are really excited to be staging the race in Bermuda,” said Jackson, who has coached at college and University level in the United States. “We will have around 22 athletes making the trip over to compete and they are all excited to race overseas and experience a different culture. It will be a brilliant experience for them.
“The Bermuda XC Challenge, looks to promote international competition for committed athletes both from the US and Bermuda. While everyone will be competing among the same field, we have separate medals for the two different competitions.
“For us, the Bermuda XC Challenge is a one-off event that we are using to close out our season. It’s a really positive opportunity for us to come over and give our competitors a totally different experience.
“All of the competitors had to qualify and so there will be a high-quality field with most in the top ten of their respective states. It will be a competitive field for sure and hopefully the level on show will be really high. It will be a really exciting new experience for all of the athletes and something they can all learn from.”
For Jackson the race also represents the opportunity to see an idea, which originated while on island for the USATF Bermuda Games in April, come to fruition and he is hopeful that the expected success of the event can help build on an existing relationship with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda National Athletics Association, with the possibility to host other events in the future.
“It has been some time in the making,” Jackson added. “I came over to the island for the USATF Bermuda Games and from what I saw I thought it would be a great idea to bring some of the young athletes from the United States over to race.
“I reached out to the BTA to see what we could possibly do and from my point of view the first step is to host this race, and then we’re also hoping to be back out in June to possibly hold a track meet.
“We are hopeful that the event will allow us to lay the foundations to be able to come back and grow this race and possible others year on year. We definitely want to make this a more regular thing where we bring athletes over from the US and I’m sure that relationship will only get bigger as the years go on.”
Having experienced the island first-hand, Jackson gave Bermuda a glowing endorsement as an ideal location for visiting athletes, particularly with its proximity to the US.
“Bermuda is an ideal location for US athletes to come over during the winter months, particularly those on the East Coast,” he said. “The location was a big part of the attraction for us to host the Bermuda XC Challenge in the first place. You can be here in less than two hours from the East Coast and so for an athlete you are not travelling for a long time. It’s ideal really to able to come over and be able to train and compete.”