BAAA set for masquerade race weekend

The BAAA Masquerade Race Weekend, one of the first athletic events of the new season, will get off the ground in December, set for the 7th and 8th of that month, starting and ending at Fort Charlotte.

The event, the first of its kind in The Bahamas, will featured a 10-kilometer (10K) race and half marathon relay on December 7, and the BAAA Masquerade Soirée and Awards Banquet on December 8. The entire weekend will be in aid of hurricane relief victims whose lives have been changed from the passing of Hurricane Dorian in the beginning of September. The race weekend is sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and supported by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). With the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) trying to involve as much of the junior athletes as possible, the Ministry of Education, who appeals to an audience of 97,000 children throughout The Bahamas, has come on board as a partner in the staging of the event.

“We’re at the point where we are looking at another phase of our program, and that is a more light-hearted event, and that is the BAAA Masquerade Race Weekend,” said BAAA President Drumeco Archer yesterday. “The idea behind this event is really to bring the country, as a whole, together. We hope to bring all organizations, corporate Bahamas, civic groups and private citizens closer to the work that we do as a federation in a social space where we could operate in a non-competitive environment with a view of allowing our corporate partners to see the BAAA in a positive light and become a part of the cultural fabric of this country. I am very excited about this event,” he added.

The BAAA will also stage a Hurricane Dorian One-Mile March in commemoration of the survivors of the deadly hurricane. They are dubbing it “Hurricane Dorian Relief Initiative/Race to Restore”.

“As a federation, it is important for us to recognize just how sobering it is for our survivors to be here with us, so we thought it would be a wonderful idea to have a Dorian One-Mile March for those who would have suffered tragedies of Hurricane Dorian,” said Archer. “This event is for everyone. We want to engage the entire country because the opportunities are limitless and we’re promoting a good time and wellness in a very different way. There are a number of athletes who have been transplanted from Abaco and Grand Bahama who are now here in Nassau. Many of them are now at different schools and adjusting to a new way of living has been a challenge. We are faced with constant requests from a number of athletes who don’t have the basic necessities and we are reaching out to them.”

Archer said that they have also been in initial discussions with the Bridge Authority as it relates to the route for the races. They intend to utilize both bridges.

“They have been gracious but we have not yet formalized a relationship, so we are looking forward to them getting on board,” he said. “At the end of the day this is all about hurricane relief for those who would have been affected by Hurricane Dorian. We want to collect funds and make allocations to people who are in direct need of hurricane relief.”

He said it’s been a while since they recognized their athletes in an awards banquet or presentation for the work that they would have done during the course of the year. In that vein, he is looking forward to the BAAA Masquerade Soirée and Awards Banquet on December 8.

“We want to recognize formally the success of our athletes,” said Archer. “We thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity to bring in the Christmas season with not only the fine performances of our athletes but also to have a good time.”

The recognition banquet on December 8 will cater primarily to the junior athletes because of the sheer numbers alone. About 100 junior athletes represented The Bahamas in international competitions this year, as opposed to less than 20 senior athletes. Archer said that they are also encouraging corporate Bahamas to come on board and support the BAAA in the staging of that event.

Head of the Sports Unit in the Ministry of Education Evon Wisdom said they are pleased that the BAAA reached out them, and they are looking forward to working with them in the staging of the race weekend.

“We fully endorse and support the BAAA in this initiative, and we invite all student athletes to come out and participate in this event,” said Wisdom. “Also, we are in full support of all local track meets, particularly the school meets of which we are so intricately involved. Through this partnership, we see a bright future for athletics in the country. We believe that the ministry through its personal efforts could really continue to grow this sport, and the future of track and field lies in the youngsters and the school children. The ministry houses more junior athletes than any other institution and we would like to have every school represented during race weekend.”

The race weekend event is expected to trigger a resurgence in distance running among the youth in the country.

“We intend to see great development from the staging of this event,” said Wisdom. “The first thing that we needed to re-establish was the cross country component. There was a slow decline in terms of the number of persons who were doing cross country and long-distance events. We started first with New Providence and we are now looking at the island of Grand Bahama and having those islands produce the number of races that is going to make this feasible and get value for dollar, so this event really ties into what we are trying to do at the ministry. We need specially trained distance coaches who take our children out and work with them so that we are able to improve in the distance races.

“Secondly, we are designating a certain amount of activities that they have to be carried out to receive the allowance that we give for each sport. This year, we are looking at three cross country events. Next year, we want to look at five events and we want for the majority of those events to be organized by the BAAA. We believe that this partnership is not only long overdue, but the emphasis on where they have needs and where we could help is of utmost importance.”

The BAAA Masquerade Race Weekend is one of the first events of the new track and field season which officially got underway with the staging of the Silver Lightning William “Knucklehead” Johnson Cross Country event last Saturday.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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