Road races could earn $200m this year
Approximately $200 million could be raised this year, with about 20 major road races set to contribute much needed funds to local charities including schools, homes for the needy and public hospitals.
Ingrid Card, vice-president of Group Marketing at Sagicor - organisers of the Sigma Corporate Run, which is targeting $60 million, says the full cost of the event is covered by her organisation, underlining that all funds raised will go to charity.
"We will give the entire $60 million, as the need is great. For example, at the Bethlehem Home they had wheels, and a plastic chair as a wheelchair," she told The Gleaner. "We need the support, and for people to support a worthy cause."
The beneficiaries of that event will be abandoned children and babies in the Bethlehem Home, operated by Missionaries of the Poor, the Spanish Town Hospital Paediatric Unit, and the Mandeville Hospital Paediatric Unit.
Such is the growing support for road races islandwide that the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run grew from 297 participants and $700,000 raised in 1999 to 26,000 entrants and $35 million last year.
Others have also been showing growth by tapping into vibrant road running community.
The CB Group UWI 5K held at the University of the West Indies, Mona, set a target of $20 million last year, but doubled that by reportedly garnering over $40 million.
This year the organisers could be aiming to raise even more for charitable causes including; the UWI scholarship fund in educational and sports development.
The GraceKennedy 5k: Education Run raised around $7 million for charities for communities in Downtown Kingston, West Kingston, Spanish Town and Majesty Gardens as well as Quarry Hill in St Catherine.
The Digicel Imagine 5k Run, which will mark its sixth renewal, could raise over $15 million this year, having grown steadily with over 10,000 participants in 2015.
The event, organised by the Digicel Foundation seeks funds for about 12 special needs beneficiaries. It is supported by over 20 corporate partners.
Meanwhile, Running Events Limited, the chief organiser of road events locally reported road race events raised over $100,000,000 last year.
Locally, the only road running event to significantly attract foreign participants is the Reggae Marathon 5K and Half Marathon, which draws in runners from at least 30 countries between the winter and thanksgiving period. It is held in Negril annually, and is seen as a strong local sports tourism product.