On Target
October 16, 2015
Taking up that challenge

This column, over the years, has been advocating for St Vincent and the Grenadines to establish a sporting event which can be distinctly its own.

Therefore, the recent announcement by Team Athletics SVG to have the return of the Chatoyer Endurance Race, smacks of the advocacy call.{{more}}

Having been on the local road racing calendar during the 1980s and 1990s, the event faded away because of a number of factors.

Whether by design then, the race attracted several long distance runners from around the region and was dubbed as one of the world’s most challenging 10ks, if not the most.

Ideally, there was and still is a platform for the race to be advertised as such, given the hilly course.

Gruelling it is, as from the start at Pembroke on the leeward side of mainland St Vincent, runners traverse for the most part uphill, ending with the task of mounting the summit of Fort Charlotte, which aptly gives it the description of being “challenging.”

The race’s rebirth, which is set for Sunday October 25, 2015, then provides marketing prospects for St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is slotted two days before the annual Independence celebrations, which can be packaged as being part of the national agenda.

Things, then, are falling into place for the tourism personnel and other authorities to get on board with the local athletics officials and begin to pencil the event as a staple on the national sporting diet.

Getting the Chatoyer 10K Endurance Race out there, first to a regional appeal and eventually the international pull, with the tag line” The World’s Most Challenging 10K,” uniquely Vincentian, should be the task of all stakeholders.

Hosting the event at this time of year twins with the slow tourism period, and what is the case this year, regional airline Liat has offered relatively low fares to most of its destinations, with St Vincent and the Grenadines not exempted.

So, the upcoming race should then be the dry-run and effectively a launch, with the 2016 exercise, the take-off.

But as indicated, it must be penned as a national undertaking, as every effort should be pursued to make it such.

Offering an attractive package to potential participants is necessary for them to want to descend on St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This is a key factor, as the current offer of US$1,000 to the winner, in both the male and female categories, may not at all cut it, as this, for some of the seasoned athletes, is peanut change.

Most importantly though, is that the event has resumed and with the stickability and cooperation of all the major players, it can only get better.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of few countries in the Caribbean which does not possess a signature sporting event which is plugged as a sports- tourism venture.

It is sometimes painful to read some of the in- flight magazines of others in the region, advertising a sporting event of their own and for St Vincent and the Grenadines, the most we can boast of its our Carnival, which others have, even if they call it by a different name.

This wait has been wearisome, but with the will to get it done, St Vincent and the Grenadines can hold its own and this column is hopeful that the Chatoyer Endurance Race becomes our niche.

Our regional neighbours are going above and beyond to come up with novelties to fuel their sports tourism thrust.

Just a stone’s throw across the waters, Grenada has a Tyre Rolling Challenge, which can lure those from outside the region to test their muscle power.

Moving away from the normal sporting disciplines has come about, as others have patented them, so it is inevitable to concoct something which deviates from the norm.

Sports tourism, some years back, was labelled as a “sleeping giant,” but has emerged as a heavy economic force, bankrolling billions for those who have chosen to awaken it.

St Vincent and the Grenadines can do well with a take-off, a sporting identity which can be indigenous and the time is rife for us to take up that challenge.