Bermuda Day: We would hate to miss a year

  • File photograph by Blaire Simmons

Organisers of the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon Derby and Sinclair Packwood Memorial cycle race are watching the progress of the Covid-19 outbreak very closely ahead of one of the biggest holidays of the year.

Bermuda Day, scheduled for May 29, also involves the Bermuda Day Parade, with thousands of spectators lining the route for the 111-year-old road race and the cycle race, which are scheduled to start in Somerset this year.

Normal service could be threatened in the coming weeks as fears mount over the virus spreading after Bermuda’s first positive tests were confirmed last week.

Gina Tucker, president of the derby organising committee, said a decision could be made in the next couple of weeks on whether the island’s most popular road race will go ahead.

“Because it is a public holiday we would naturally follow the Government’s stance on what will happen on that day and what they would chose to do,” she said.

Dr Tucker pointed out that T-shirts and medals have to be ordered for the race. “We would hate to miss a year, but we do plan to be as ready as possible just in case it disappears,” she added.

“If so, I would hope that we could do it on a different day [this year]. I was considering a survey of participants from last year, and those who have already signed up, to see how they would feel.

“September is pretty hot, so it would be great to still run this race. Running is good for the spirit.

“I’m hoping Bermuda has kept this [virus] at bay soon enough so that we can survive through it. I’m thinking by April 1 a decision could be made.”

Health officials are discouraging large gatherings and, unquestionably, there would be a big crowd of both spectators and participants at the finish line at Bernard Park.

“We have been impressed with the early registration,” Dr Tucker said. “I say to people, ‘go ahead and register; it won’t hurt and you can use it later’.”

The Bermuda Bicycle Association was due to start its season tomorrow with a team time-trial starting at the old Paget Post Office, but that event was called off last week after David Burt, the Premier, urged against gatherings of 50 or more persons.

“We’ve been running this as our season-opener for a couple of years, teams of four racing as a unit,” said Peter Dunne, president of the BBA. “We postponed it before it was announced that we have a couple of positive cases of Covid-19.

“At that point we felt that we were going to have more than 50 participants and a prize presentation at the end, so we felt it didn’t make any sense to have it.”

Dunne added: “There are only a couple of events with hard dates — the Bermuda Day race and then the national championships in the latter part of June. As much as we are prepared for those events, we know that we need to be flexible and realistic.

“The health department is going to deal with the broader message for the community’s general wellbeing and we’re going to follow their directive. I don’t think there is any reason for us to think we are better at making those decisions than they are.

“We want to have that event but we recognise that public health is a priority. For the most part, all of our activities, even unofficial group rides, have been curtailed.”

Events called off in recent days include with middle and senior interschool sports, the Skyport Magic Mile, the second and third races of the Legends Series, the Ray Swan 8K and the Ludwig Cann 10K.