Honour Awards | Running Events - Paving the way for healthy living
Check the calendar over the last few years and you will see there's clearly a movement in promoting and practising healthy lifestyles.
Running Events Ltd, winner of the 2016 Gleaner Honour Award in the category Health and Wellness, has been at the forefront of this movement since its creation seven years ago. Race director Alfred 'Frano' Francis, who had been organising road races for several years, said he wanted to organise events on a full-time basis. The concept and name just came to him one day.
"Three women visited the office and asked if it would be possible to have a running event every month," he said. "I embarked on formalising the whole structure and incorporating Running Events."
He noted that in the early days, much support came from the National Health Fund, which saw Running Events as helpful to the promotion of healthy living. Running Events was able to meet that initial demand and has been able to handle the increase in events over the years.
"I have seen that the calendar has grown significantly. I must say that corporate support has been overwhelming; it has been fantastic," Francis said.
He pointed out that organising these events is more than a job; it's a passion. His genesis with running dates back to his schoolboy days and then later on with the Jamdammers Running Club. But with Running Events, he and his team have taken things to another level.
"At the core of it is the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, but we are even more passionate about the events that really facilitate the healthy lifestyle but also raise funds for needy causes," he said. "And I think the two have come together to work wonderfully and we can say that we are proud to be Running Events Ltd and do what we do."
Francis estimates the team organises around 20 events annually these days, including the big ones like the Sigma Corporate Run. Running Events has three full-time staff members, but this number multiplies dramatically when Francis counts all the persons who get involved in the process, including those on race days.
Despite the name, Running Events promotes exercise of all forms. But the preference is clear.
"Running is good cardio for the body. It exercises all the muscles. It also helps to detoxify the body by sweating and the endorphins (released) give you a wonderful feeling," he said. "There are a lot of wonderful Jamaicans out there who appreciate what Running Events is doing, and it motivates us and inspires us."
Running Events also emphasises healthy eating and rest as key components of healthy living.
"Sixty-seven per cent of our beds in hospitals are occupied by people who have non-communicable challenges," he said. "If they live a positive lifestyle, in the realm of exercise and eating
(properly), they would not be there."
He acknowledged that more persons are running now, but he still feels that there is a figurative long way to go. He promised that Running Events would still play its part.
"We're always seeking to improve on the runner experience so persons will become ambassadors of road running and invite their friends and families to come and participate," he said. "The benefits are immense. Illness can wreck the family purse. If you don't make time for wellness, you're going to make time for sickness."
Responding to The Gleaner Honour Award, Francis said it was "good to be appreciated for what you do", even though for him and his team, it's not a chore.
"So I'm thankful; and for a prestigious 180-odd-year-old organisation to recognise Running Events, a young, passionate entity, for what we do, we are extremely thankful and I hope that through this, we can even spread our message and attract more persons to what we do and help our nation, because a healthy nation is very positive."