THE WALKE Street Emancipation Committee has limited the number of participants for its 18th annual Freedom Run on Friday from 4 pm.
Organiser Montsho Masimba revealed the committee is restricting participation to approximately 100 athletes as compared to previous years which fluctuated between 200-300 entrants.
Additionally, the Committee has asked runners to wear their masks upon assembly at the starting line and when in close proximity. As the race runs off and participants begin to separate themselves along the route, they can remove their masks to complete the race.
In an attempt to preserve the event’s rich history, the Committee has opted to stage the 5K road race amidst a recent increase in confirmed covid19 cases locally.
“We have limited the race membership because of the coronavirus and are trying to have groups of 25 runners. The Committee did very little advertisements in order to limit the amount of people that show up. This year, the run is more of a symbolic event to commemorate the day. We did not want to break 17 years of tradition but will also exercise safety precautions,” said Masimba.
No trophies or cash prizes will be presented at the 2020 edition since sponsorship has been few and far between. Only medals would be presented to the top finishers.
Undeterred by the lack of financial aid, the Committee was able to pool resources from members and groups within the Sangre Grande area who are accustomed participating in the annual race.
“We have stood the test of time even though hard times have passed. Big companies are cancelling their events but we want to maintain tradition and not have a break. There will be areas for runners to wash their hands and sanitise before and after the race to ensure everyone is decontaminated,” he added.
According to Masimba, there will be no major official opening and closing ceremony to limit public gathering. For the medal presentation, there will be no speeches, fanfare and music to limit time spent after the race. After the race and medal presentation, a Committee member will deliver short closing remarks.
The Committee is yet to decide if they will charge a registration fee.
Since inception of the race, runners have travelled from as far as Kenya, Guyana and the Caribbean to participate. Since the Government’s border closure in March due to covid19, no regional or international runners would be featured this year.
Ironically, last year’s theme was ‘Conspiracy or not – The looming health crisis’. This year, the Committee has opted to stick to this same theme dubbing it ‘Conspiracy or not – The looming health crisis continued & Our Water is not for Sale’.
Masimba concluded, “We’re still thinking whether we should ask for a registration fee. We still have to pay for the medals but we’re monitoring the situation. I didn’t talk to the board about that as yet. The race is quite popular and people will turn up whether we advertise or not.”