Oecs 1/2 Mara '09

OECS half-marathon preparations on track
by Robertson S. Henry
Sports Journalist
MONDAY NOVEMBER 02, 2009; KINGSTON, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – “We have been preparing for quite time, but with no OECS sports coordinator appointed, we had to wait,” so stated Leroy Llewellyn, vice-president of SVG Athletics in a telephone interview with sportcaraibe.net. He was discussing the issues associated with the planning for the 2009 Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Nemwill/Guardian Half-marathon, to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to be ran on November 15th 2009.  According to Llewellyn, the absence of a sports coordinator prevented the preparations from being more advance, “but all credit to Mr. (Denis) James for as soon as he was appointed, he called me and things were set in motion.” The Vincentian athletics official added that “work on the ground is progressing smoothly amongst the club and schools, and we are looking forward to record numbers participating this year.”

However he has some concerns over at least two issues which are affecting the planning. The first is the cost of airfares which is preventing non-official runners from OECS countries from participating.  “We cannot attract the numbers we would like because the airfares are so high. If things continue as they are, then sports in the region will die and we will lose the kind of sponsorship that we need.” He said that he and other sports administrators are looking forward to the commencement of operations of the ferry service in the southern Caribbean. This Llewellyn says will “greatly enhance the opportunities presented to sports men and women to travel and participate in tournaments in the region.”

The other issue is failure by the OECS member states to inform the organizers of their official runners. “Up to this day we have not received the names of the official runners from the OECS countries,” Llewellyn fumed. “This is affecting our advertising for today Monday we wanted to get all of our ads running.” He confirmed that Vincentians are eagerly looking forward to the Pamenos Ballentyne versus Zephrinus Joseph clash, which when one looks at the history between these two top Caribbean runners, “will certainly be the highlight of the race.”

The funding for the event is derived mainly from the Nemwill/Guardian sponsorship, and assistance from the private sector.  Llewellyn says that the sponsorship package ought to be reviewed for “nine years ago we received EC$25,000.00 amount of sponsorship then. Now nine years later, it is the same and the cost of everything one needs to host a proper meet has gone up.”  Llewenlly pointed out that the estimated budget for the 2009 OECS Nemwill/Guardian Half-marathon is approximately EC$40,000.00, and we are confident that we will raise the balance.”

Word of confirmation is expected from a private sector concern who has indicated a willingness to part-sponsor the event, which Llewellyn says is healthy for “no one business entity should be allowed to shoulder the financial burdens of sponsoring tournaments or competitions all alone.”
(Robertson S. Henry)
Sports Journalist