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Marathon hope


Justin Marville

Marathon hope

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THE RUN BARBADOS MARATHON might not have run its course after all.
Sports manager of the Barbados Tourism Authority Gregory Armstrong has hinted at the possible return of the event which was dropped for the first time this year from the Run Barbados series.
“We haven’t abandoned the marathon altogether, but we needed this year to sit down and think about the route and the other logistics, so we will bring some of our partners to get their opinion,” Armstrong said.
“Once their recommendation is approved, then we could look at possible re-implementing the marathon, but let me say I still think it was a good decision to drop the marathon because we were struggling with the event for some of these basic reasons.
“We’ve had a number of organizations expressing great interest on the condition that we can guarantee that the road will be closed for six to eight hours, and we just cannot guarantee that because when you look at the west coast that’s where most of our high-end hotels are.”
Armstrong’s comments comes just four months after a decision was made to cancel the series’ premier event amidst ever-decreasing numbers and dwindling interest in the taxing race.
This was after the organizers reported a record-low 70 marathon runners in 2010, and just 77 a year later.
Last year’s controversy surrounding the top two finishers going off-route didn’t help matters.
But there’s been a cry from some of the overseas-based entrants for the marathon’s reinstatement, especially from the Kenyan contingent, who maintain the marathon is the event that has drawn them to the Run Barbados series.
“I want to request that they bring back the marathon because it is the big one,” said 2011 women’s winner Leah Kigen, who echoed the sentiment of Kenyan countryman and two-time champ Richard Kessio.
“We can run three or four hours and then people come out and see that a race is going on and give us support, but I will still come back even if they don’t bring the marathon.”
However, the initial report suggests that the series isn’t worse off without the marathon, as the overall numbers of the Run Barbados festival increased from 1 100 in 2011 to over 1 200 this year.
“I am comforted by the fact that the numbers have improved, and I am kind of glad that we went through without [the marathon] this year, but I’m still not totally happy  . . . , ” said Armstrong.
“I’d like to see around two to three thousand participating with a third of that number being visitors, and to do that we kind of sense that we need shorter races, more events like adding a triathlon, and getting corporate Barbados involved.
“But while we want visitors to come I am also cognizant of the fact that if the runners from overseas come to run against themselves then it’s not very encouraging.
“If you look at Crop Over, you have about 30 000 Barbadians involved so it is something exciting that visitors want to be a part of, and we want the series to be similar,” he added.

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