The lack of sponsorship is hampering the Bermuda National Athletics Association’s attempt to offer prize money for elite athletes at the Bermuda Marathon Weekend.
Arguably the most popular event of the weekend, the Front Street Mile races will no longer be sponsored by KPMG which replaced Butterfield Bank as the sponsor 13 years ago.
However, Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, is hoping funding can be found to enable prize money to be offered to the top athletes next week.
“We’re still working on it; hopefully we will be able to come up with something,” Raynor said. “We lost KPMG. Their contract was up last year and they said they weren’t going to renew it.
“There are some discussions out there so our hope is that something, even at the last minute, will come through.
“A lot depends on how many people enter. We may end up with extra funds because the entries are up.
“We have to fund the [elite] athletes, pay for their tickets, accommodation and food. The challenge is the prize money, but we haven’t closed the door on it.”
Dage Minors achieved a milestone on the 30th anniversary of the mile races last year by becoming the first Bermudian to win the elite men’s race — in 4min 33sec.
Yesterday, shortly before returning to the United States, Minors confirmed he will not be defending his title. He cited commitments at Franklin Pearce University in New Hampshire, where he is pursuing a master’s degree and helping to coach the athletics team.
“I’m pretty upset about it because I wanted to defend my title,” Minors said. “It’s being held a week later this year and I’m made to believe there is no prize money, which is disappointing. There was monetary rewards for the top three last year. This year, a race that has been running for years, one of the major sporting events on the island, has no money to pay the elite runners. I completely understand, but this is a major event.”
Minors has been home since New Year’s Day but is unable to stay longer or return to compete.
“Being held a week later doesn’t really work for me because I have a job now where I have to be back on campus to coach, as well as train for my own competitions,” Minors said.
“I have already missed time being here this past week when I should have been at work. Money isn’t the only reason I run, but the money I received last year enabled me to go to Europe in the summer to compete and run fast times. Times are rough; I get that.”
Anthony Raynor, race director for the 10K, marathon and half-marathon, predicts an intriguing women’s elite mile, with four-times winner Heather Kampf, of the United States, returning after a two-year absence. Kampf’s win in 2016 enabled her to become the first elite woman to win four straight mile titles.
Also registered for the mile is American Chanelle Price, who won the 800 metres at the World Indoor Championships in Poland in 2014 with a personal best time of 2:00.09.
Price is the first American woman to win an 800 gold medal at an indoor or outdoor world championship.
Raynor expects numbers to be up slightly from last year.
“We’re looking at just over 140 runners for the marathon, 600 for half-marathon, 530-plus for the challenge event and 800 for the 10K,” Raynor said.
“On the positive side, the numbers are up a bit, so we’re happy with that.
“Distance running is for those who endure; this event has been around for 44 years and is going to endure like the runners endure. People are inquiring already about next year, we are still looking for volunteers, people to help in various areas. They can go to our website, bdaraceweekend.com.”
Entries close next week. Registration can be made at bermudaracedayworld.com