Sigma Invitational goes virtual, aims to raise $50 million for hospitals


Sigma Invitational goes virtual, aims to raise $50 million for hospitals

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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Though the usual fanfare associated with the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run might be scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced organisers to take the virtual route, a selected few will be fortunate enough to participate in an invitational run.

Having showed its creative arm with numerous innovations in recent times, it comes as no surprise that Sagicor has once again raised the bar for this year's 23rd staging, staying true to its reputation as one of, if not the Caribbean's premier road-running events.

While the virtual component will be opened to all, once registered, the special Sigma Run Invitational will be contested by 100 participants — 50 males and 50 females — who have impressed organisers over the past three editions.

However, in order to land an invite for the Invitational Race, scheduled for February 21 in New Kingston, individuals must register by January 31.

On the other hand, the virtual run, which will see participants running in their own space and submitting their times, will take place February 12-21.

Alysia White, assistant vice-president and head of group marketing at Sagicor Group Jamaica, shared that this move by Sagicor is to ensure compliance with safety regulations and protocols that have been put in place by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to limit the spread of the infectious virus.

She revealed that some individuals, who will take part in the invitational race, will actually be selected by their companies — Bank of Jamaica, Sagicor Group Jamaica, Jewel Resorts, Ministry of Health, Tax Administration of Jamaica, Bert's Auto Parts, Dunn's Electrical and Hardware, GraceKennedy, Catherine's Peak, J Wray and Nephew, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Security, National Baking, National Commercial Bank (NCB), RJRGleaner Group, Seprod, UCT Steppas and Windalco — but again stressed the importance of registration.

“These are among those companies that have placed in the top 10 over the last three years and they will be invited to send a representative. Of course, there are people from other corporate entities as well who will be invited to participate based on their times even if they are not a member of any of those companies. So what we are asking them to do is to send their top male and top female runners for the invitational race,” White told editors and reporters during yesterday's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange via Zoom.

“If you have not registered for this year's race virtually, you will not be invited to participate in the physical invitational race,” she added.

Race director Alfred 'Frano' Francis pointed out that a special route has been created for the invitational run, which will see participants doing a double loop within New Kingston.

The 50 females will run off at 7:00 am, with their male counterparts following suit 7:30 am.

“So it is 2.75K, you do it twice and you end up with your 5.5K and that is just to take us within New Kingston so we won't inconvenience anybody by taking up any major thoroughfare,” Francis noted, adding that the runners' times will be a net time.

“So it is not necessarily who passes the finish first; it is who does the fastest times. And the reason is because we will be spacing persons adhering to the COVID protocols of six feet apart at the start line going back.

“Therefore it will only be fair for the person with the fastest net time to be named winner. When we say net time, net time is the time that you cross the start mat and then you will come over the finish line.

With this year's event targeting $50 million for the Annotto Bay and Port Antonio hospitals, as well as a special education initiative that has been pioneered to assist students who have been affected by the pandemic in more ways than one, Francis urged Jamaicans at home and abroad to donate and/or participate.

The registration fee is J$2,000 or US$15. Registration closes on February 12.

“The need is there, so we want persons to come on and participate. Also, the healthy lifestyle perspective is important. One of the things about COVID is that it impacts persons who are not well worse than persons who are fit, so we encourage persons to use this as a focus; participate, contribute to a worthy cause and help to satisfy some of the needs that are there,” Francis reasoned.

The Sagicor Sigma Corporate Runs has raised over $450 million for some 40 beneficiaries, and focuses on health and education. Last year, the event raised a record $55.3 million for beneficiaries the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Savanna-la-Mar Hospital and Clifton Boys' Home.

Meanwhile, double World Under-20 champion Briana Williams, 18, will serve as the race patron for this year's edition and Chris Zacca, president & CEO, Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited, believes she is a welcome addition to the event.

“Of course, Briana is a fresh face; it's the first time our patron is younger than the actual age of the Sigma Run which is 23 years old and Briana hasn't reached 19 yet. But her enthusiasm and her ability to reach across various age groups and various countries... is enormous, so we are very excited,” Zacca declared.

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