— Telegram file photo
Last summer’s Telegram 10-Mile Road Race, the province’s preeminent running event, grew to record proportions with over 3,600 registrants.
And while some are speculating that the 86th annual race from Paradise to St. John’s next month will eclipse 4,000 competitors, Newfoundland and Labrador Athletics Association executive director George Stanoev is skeptical.
“I highly doubt that,” he says with a chuckle. “Last year was an unusual year with the huge jump in registration. We’re more used to an increase in 10 per cent increments each year.”
As of Thursday, about 900 people had registered for the Sunday, July 28 race. But Stanoev is confident that number will see a “tremendous jump” in the days leading up to the June 30, 11:59 p.m. early bird registration deadline.
For those on the fence as to whether they will take part in this year’s event, Stanoev urges them to take advantage of the early bird registration as it affords certain benefits. Not only will runners and walkers be eligible for the discounted fee of $55, but they’ll also be able to order, for the first time, a gender-specific official race t-shirt and have a race bib customized with their full name.
As the race has grown, so has the NLAA’s need to streamline the management of the event. As such, this year’s event will not feature any in-person registration at the Re/Max Centre (St. John’s Curling Club) on the Thursday prior to the race.
“We started with in-person and mail-in registration exclusively. Then, about 10 years ago, we offered online registration and the first time we had about 10 per cent take advantage. Gradually, the numbers have grown, and now I would say it’s like 90 per cent online.
“Late registration makes it impossible for us to order the medals, order the shirts, the bib numbers, etc.”
That means the absolute last opportunity to register as a single entrant will be 11:59 p.m. on July 22, the Monday before the race. Registration for teams, like those competing in the Battle of the Badges, will open online July 1 and close at midnight on Friday, July 26.
Race-kit pickup at the Re/Max Centre, however, has been expanded to include Friday.
“People are surprised at how little time they spend inside the curling, but the waiting time to get into the club is longer now. We have huge lineups and we have heavy traffic in the area, so we’re just being more responsible and making sure the overall experience is positive,” Stanoev explains.
Changes this year aren’t limited to registration. For the first time in the event’s history, there will be an enforced time limit of three and a half hours to cover the 10 mile (16.1-kilometre) course. Stanoev says it’s necessary to enforce the limit to better manage the time of race volunteers.
“It’s a big operation around the finish line. We need to bring the people in to take down the fences, the arch (over the finish line), all of the gear, and clean up the park to make it ready for the next group.
“We have well over 200 people along the course who are volunteering, including security, and they need to know they can be used appropriately as opposed to wasting their time.”
Stanoev makes it clear, however, that three and a half hours is ample time for walkers to cover the distance.
“We’re not going to exclude anyone from the race.”
Also new this year is a $5 fee for the shuttle service that runs from the Fort William Building to the start line on McNamara Road in Paradise. The fee, which must be paid when registering, will allow race organizers to know precisely how many busses will be required so they can get all runners to the start time in a timely and efficient manner.
“It’s always a scary moment whether we have enough buses and whether we’ll be able to accommodate everybody.
“It’s a lot easier to call 10 or 15 or 20 buses, but when you get into the numbers we’re getting, having extra buses available on short notice on Sunday morning is not as easy.”
Also new to the 2013 event is iMedal — “It’s sort of like a sticker that you can order with your time from the race and you can affix it to the back of your medal,” Stanoev explains — and a partnership with HTG Sports Services, the company handling for race registration, that will offer come-from-away competitors a discounted rate at certain hotels around the metro region.
“We’re looking forward to another great participation and a better organized event on many different levels,” Stanoev says.
“We’re making adjustments as we go along and hope that the overall experience will be positive for all participants.”