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High Mountain race organisers want more money in wellness fund

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High Mountain race organisers want more money in wellness fund

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 03, 2019

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WILLIAMSFIELD, Manchester — Changing the annual High Mountain Coffee Road Race to a morning event this year, to ensure cooler conditions, organisers were expecting much more than the approximately 600 participants last Sunday.

John O Minott, chairman of the road race committee, told the Jamaica Observer that they were hoping to boost the turnout with an increase of corporate groups from outside the parish, but that did not materialise.

“The take-up of corporate teams wasn’t as expected,” he said.

Hinging on the higher number of participants is the need to generate enough funding towards the targeted amount of at least $1 million to be donated to the Dialysis Unit at Mandeville Regional Hospital, which has been benefiting from the proceeds for the past five years.

Minott said that from a preliminary tally the gain from the race is about $400, 000.

The organisers are urging persons to continue contributing to the High Mountain Coffee Road Races Wellness Fund (account number 644311 at Scotiabank, Mandeville) and said that a crowdfunding platform will be set up in short order.

The donation from the High Mountain Coffee Road Races is primarily through the registration fees for the race and contributions to the bank account.

Handover of the proceeds to the hospital is expected to take place at the end of February.

Mandeville Hospital administrators have disclosed that it takes $65. 8 million annually to care for the 58 patients who currently benefit from dialysis at the hospital, and there is a waiting list of others whom they are not able to accommodate.

The road race proceeds help to relieve the financial burden.

The High Mountain Coffee Road Races, put on by coffee processors Jamaica Standard Products — which operates from Williamsfield — is in its 35th staging and is reportedly the oldest road race in Jamaica.

Over the years it was held in the afternoon and took on a festival-type atmosphere as many spectators would converge, vendors were on hand with diverse items on sale and the momentum of the event spiralled into other entertainment activities in Williamsfield afterwards.

By late morning last Sunday, many disappointed vendors were ready to leave. They had nothing much to keep them occupied after the race as the smaller number of participants and spectators were also leaving.

Minott said that he and his team will be going “back to the drawing board” to assess how they can make improvements, but a morning race a better conditions for the participants and they are trying to build the road race aspect.

Bellefield High’s Aneisha Lawrence and Foster’s Garfield Gordon, female and male winner of the 10K run, attested that running in the morning is better.

A second-time participant in the race, athlete Justin Scheid from the Shore Athletics Club in New Jersey, and second-place winner in the male category for the 10K run, related how he collapsed because of the heat and because he was not properly hydrated the first time he was in Jamaica to participate.

For him, getting another chance to return was a challenge to himself that he would conquer this time around.

Scheid donated his cash award of $20,000 to the Wellness Fund.

Dr Kevin Jones from Mandeville Hospital, who was part of the medical team during the race, said that less people needed medical attention this year and, unlike previous years, no participant came to the booth because of heat-related issues.

He said that if it is not a morning race it could be held in early evening, but would not suggest that it returns to the afternoon.

Sharon Edwards, who was part of a small team from Suncity Radio in Portmore that came out to compete, said she has been participating in road races across the island for 19 years, and the High Mountain Coffee Road Races have the best prizes.

She said that this should be highlighted to encourage participation, and that promotions for the event should also begin earlier.

Edwards added that the festival element can still be incorporated if activities are planned after the morning race — such as appropriate entertainment for everyone, including the children, in possibly a health fair format, do that the message of wellness will be the overall theme.

Public education, to help decrease the number of patients with kidney failure, is also among the High Mountain Coffee Road Races organisers’ plans in giving back to Manchester.

Last Sunday’s race was held after a break in 2018, due to the illness of conceptualiser of the race and patriarch of the Minott family, Jackie Minott, owner of Jamaica Standard Products.

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