Sports

Labour of love?

Behind-the-scenes effort for Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run a tough yet rewarding experience

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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The Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run has over the years generated a lot of goodwill, delight and enthusiasm.

But many would be oblivious of the stress and strain that go into ensuring that the event became, and by extension, remained the largest of its kind in the Caribbean.

The glitter and glamour that the many participants and bystanders witness year after year require a tedious planning process that can cause a ball of anxieties for even the most proficient individual or team.

Fortunately, organisers of the event, Sagicor Group, boast a dedicated marketing team, who has been the backbone of each and every smooth and successful execution of the event since its inception in 1999.

Ably aided by over 200 equally dedicated volunteers, the Sagicor team members — past and present — have been committed to the task of ensuring that the company's initiative donated approximately $350 million to various beneficiaries over the years.

Now with the 21st staging of the event scheduled for February 17 looming, Alysia White, Sagicor Group's assistant vice president of marketing, gave an insight of the meticulous behind-the-scenes effort that goes into the fundraising event.

The tremendous growth of the event has been evident over the years as $21 million, $26 million and $43 million, were raised in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively, with $50.5 million and $50 million raised in 2017 and 2018.

This year's target of $52 million, if achieved or surpassed, would make it the most successful staging. The May Pen Hospital, Diabetes Association of Jamaica and Lupus Foundation are the beneficiaries.

“We start planning the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run from the minute that the race of the previous year is finished and sometimes before and we start with the ordering of the bibs. We order 27,000 in faith knowing that we have to sell them,” White said during the Jamaica Observer's Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue offices yesterday.

According to White, a secretariat of five individuals is then assigned specifically for registration and account purposes, after which the volunteers are then assembled in a meeting to detail their respective roles.

“A lot of persons are coming on board from our Sagicor team and Running Events also has a team and we are ordering T-shirts, we are making calls daily from the beginning of September, calling people who we wouldn't normally call.

“We literally go through the entire phone book for companies to see if they want to be a part of the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run, because many people see the run happening but never think that they can be a part of it. So we basically give some calls and tell them to come on down and run with us in the streets of New Kingston,” she explained.

With that virtually being the easy part, White pointed out that the more arduous work commences when the registration portal closes and includes a few sleepless nights, particularly closer to race day.

Nonetheless, White underscored their commitment to safeguard the continued success of the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run, which has impacted the lives of many Jamaicans, particularly in the health care sector.

“When the forms come in, every single one of those forms has to be checked, so you can imagine checking the forms of 25,000 or more people.

“It takes an army literally of volunteers to check to make sure that everybody has signed their waiver forms to check whether it is run or walk, to ensure the sex is correct and that we don't have anybody under eight signing up,” White shared.

She continued: “So we do that in a systemic and a very meticulous way and that sets our run apart as well, and then we also have to label each of the 27,000 bibs. It is tedious and hard and sometimes you feel like you are falling asleep, but our volunteers are spectacular with that.

“It is the largest event on the Jamaican calendar, so we don't sleep from Friday night to Sunday morning, and we drive the routes several times to see if there is a pothole that we have to patch, so that we make sure that everything is set for the run.”

Meanwhile, race director Alfred “Frano” Francis of Running Events Limited, who provides a foundation of knowledge and support in ensuring a safe and successful event, echoed similar sentiments.

His involvement requires taking care of the course work, timing and other logistics, which includes liaising with all the various state agencies to acquire permission and security for the event.

Francis also makes it a priority to meet with the churches along the route to check that the 7:30 am start time is not a hindrance to churchgoers.

“It is a lot really, but we are very passionate about it so it is not something hard and when you listen to these people and their needs it is really touching because I was also affected by an autoimmune illness five years ago,” Francis revealed.

“So it is easy for us and I have a wonderful team at Running Events and Reggae Marathon and I am constantly on call where the Sagicor team is concerned.

“It is a wonderful partnership. I have been there since day one and it is the run of all runs in Jamaica. When you get approximately one per cent of the population coming out to support an event, you know it is fantastic. So I know it will continue to grow,” he ended.

Early bird registration for the event is $1,200 per individual participant for race day. This will close on January 18, at which point, full cost for registration will be $1,500.

The registration process will close on February 1. Registration forms can be accessed online at sagicorsigmarun.com.


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