Chatoyer International 10K – potential
On Sunday 22 November 2015 this country will witness the reintroduction of the Chatoyer International Endurance 10K Road Race. The event is billed internationally as the world’s most challenging 10K road race.
Founders and organisers of the race, Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines, is once more seeking to introduce the event as a major sport tourism undertaking, in the hope that local authorities will grasp its significance and lend its full support.
Road racing has become a very popular feature of sports in most countries around the world. Indeed the popularity of these events has grown to such an extent that in many countries private individuals and organisation have grabbed the opportunity to organise some events as a major income-generation undertaking. This has forced the hands of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to exercise some measure of control where it can, through its affiliates.
Several years ago Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines, introduced the Chatoyer International Endurance 10K road race. The race began near Buccament and ended at the historic Fort Charlotte.
The thinking at the time was that several road races exist around the world. In the Caribbean we have the annual Reggae Marathon in Jamaica, a marathon in Trinidad and Tobago, the annual Run Barbados races in Barbados as well as major races in Bermuda, BVI, USVI and Guyana.
TASVG thought that it was possible to establish a new event that utilised the reality of our very hilly terrain. Hence was born the idea of the world’s most challenging 10K road race. The idea was to create a niche in the road racing market that would at once attract those runners who are excited at the prospect of engaging tough terrains as well as allow for the international road running community to explore St Vincent and the Grenadines as a tourism destination.
The idea of ending the road race at the historic Fort Charlotte was meant to highlight the country’s beauty as a tourism product, given the remarkable view afforded from the Fort’s location.
During the few editions of the event we had representation for some of the best road runners in the Caribbean, including Claude Nohile of Martinique and Moses Rangell of Trinidad and Tobago. Pamenos Ballantyne, Adelaide Carrington and Lisa Daniel gave St Vincent and the Grenadines good reason to feel proud that we were producing comparatively good road runners.
The race attracted a tremendous amount of followers. People lined almost the entire route of the race and many persons waited along the route in packed vehicles anxious to join in the motorcade that monitored the performances of the athletes. Of course this posed a problem since it was not always possible to stop many of them from positioning themselves between the runners and hampering the progress of others.
The race also featured prize money that proved a major attraction to athletes at home and abroad.
Inadequate funding left the organisation of the event as an annual exercise in the doldrums. Successive ministers and personnel at the Ministry of Tourism and governmental sports agencies seemed not to have grasped the concept and failed to commit to being a part of an annual sport tourism event with immense potential to showcase so many different aspects of our beautiful country.
Road running developments
There was a time in antiquity when athletes competed for laurel wreaths. Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines our athlete since competed for medals. Much has changed.
Some years ago TASVG introduced cash prizes for the annual Round-D-Town Road Relay. This came as the organisation acquired funding from the regional athletics governing body, NACAC. The organisation then collaborated with LOG Enterprises to introduce cash awards for local road running events dubbed, LOG Enterprises 5K Road Race Series.
Unfortunately many of our athletes seem not to understand the state of the Vincentian economy. Some now appear only eager to participate in events where prize monies are on offer.
Some have even reached the stage of creating and spreading rumours regarding monies allocated to road races.
TASVG continues to develop road races with the introduction of community road races where communities are given all responsibility for organising events thereby facilitating the emergence and honing of organisational skill competencies. There are only medals on offer. The expectation is that focus would be on developing the sport in the communities and so awards are to be available for community participants. This has to take time and will eventually blossom in a year or two.
There is however still a shortage of participation on the part of track athletes who are preparing for the new competition season and who, during the period, September to December, are expected to be involved in pre-season work that focuses on building endurance capability.
There is also an absence of footballers who are engaged in preparing for and participating in competitions that run for anything from 80 to 90 minute, not including extra time.
One can only conclude that coaches know best.
Enter 2015’s Chatoyer 10K
This year’s NACAC Chatoyer International Endurance 10K Road Race will feature an international as well as a local senior and a local Under 19 segments for both male and female athletes. The bulk of the prize money targets the international segments where the registration cost is also higher.
An athlete can only participate in one segment of the event.
At the local level, unfortunately, coaches and athletes seem not to have much respect for registration deadlines, a feature that blights the capacity of the organisers to plan properly. It may well be that they prefer to wait to see who is participating and gauge their chances of success before deciding whether or not to compete.
New restrictions in place at the level of tourism authorities here have forced a change of route for the race. To maintain the challenging endurance aspect to the event TASVG has organised for the event to start at Cumberland, move to Spring Village, then to the Chateaubelair playing field, all in North Leeward.
The race begins at 3.00pm, prompt.
At the Chateaubelair playing field TASVG has organised a Kids In Athletics Fair. This will feature children with age ranges between 5 – 12 years, engaged in running, jumping and throwing activities that serve as an introduction to athletics through play. This begins at 12 noon and will conclude just after the start of the Chatoyer Race.
Live coverage of the race should allow those at Chateaubelair to follow every aspect of the event and prepare a true Vincentian welcome for the athletes as they approach and cross the finish line.
North Leeward has become an area where the entire populace enjoys the excitement of road running. More athletes participate in our road events in that part of the country than anywhere else.
People encourage participation and come out in their numbers cheering the athletes along the way.
This first revised edition comes off on Sunday and it is expected to attract several overseas athletes, headed by Kenneth Rotich from Kenya. Curtis Cox and Tonya Nero will represent Trinidad and Tobago.
Martinique will be represented by Golden Stars athletes, Fabienne Massolin, Fanjanteino Felix (both females) and Yahia Hajji (male).
Two male athletes, Fabien Michineau and Eddy Boulate, will represent Guadeloupe in the big event.
Kenisha Pascal and Tallan James are Grenada’s participating athletes.
The challenge is definitely on and the sustainability of the race will depend on how well this revised first edition comes off.
St Vincent and the Grenadines is home to Pamenos Ballantyne and Linda McDowall. They know the terrain of our country and should rise to the occasion. They have both participated in the CARICOM 10K as well as a recent competition in Guadeloupe and should be adequately prepared for the challenge.
The NACAC Chatoyer International Endurance 10K of 2015 is therefore an important watershed for the St Vincent and the Grenadines.