The first meeting of the technical committee of the Senegambia Novelty Run was held in the Gambia last Friday at the Permanent Secretariat of the Senegalo Gambia office in Cape Point. The Senegalese delegation of 5 was led by Cheikh Boye tfirst Vice President of the Senegalese Athletics Association. They arrived on Thursday and paid a courtesy call on the Senegalese Ambassador to the Gambia before the consultative meeting started.
The Senegambia Novelty Run was conceived by Mr George Gomez in 2012 and over the last few years was perfecting the event by discussing it and seeking the views and ideas of several individuals and organizations, among them, the World Runners in the UK.
The event is a relay run from Banjul to Dakar, starting in Barra and ending in central Dakar covering a total of 308 kilometers. It will be the longest relay run in Africa and according to the planning the event will take three full days to complete and athletes will have night stops in Kaolack and in Mbour in Senegal.
The consultative technical meeting was chaired by Mr George Gomez and representing the Gambia was the Technical team of the Gambia Athletics Association led by the President of the GAA, Alhaji Dodou Joof.
The Executive Secretary of the Permanent Secretariat Ambassador Paul Badjie, welcomed the delegates from Senegal and congratulated Mr Gomez for thinking of the event which according to him will contribute a lot in integration in the region. The event according to him has the capacity to attract participation not only from the Senegambia region but from the whole of Ecowas. ”This event can also attract participants from other parts of the world and can enhance tourism in the two countries”, Ambassador Badji stated, adding that the idea to dedicate this event to the Presidents of Senegal and The Gambia was good and would help to cement the relationship between the youths of the two countries. ”It is good to see officials from the two countries working together on a project like this”, he remarked before wishing them well in their discussions.
The minutes of the first meeting held in Dakar in December were reviewed and the Technical Director of the Senegalese AA, Madam Fatou Sissoko reported on the exercise carried out under her supervision to mark the route from Amdallai to Dakar. She said the route was marked every 10 kilometers and the water points have been identified. The end point of the run in Dakar is yet to be determined because this needs an input from the Security authorities in Senegal.
The run which will be first of its kind anywhere in Africa will be a three day event of sports and culture. The race will start in Barra on a Friday and end in Dakar on Sunday and during the run cultural groups will be encouraged to line the streets with the villagers to welcome and entertain the runners as they run pass their villages. The relay will be between teams of 10 runners and 2 reserves.
The meeting reviewed the original plan of the run and agreed that to make it more attractive for the athletes and spectators, all 10 runners from each team will run a leg each day of the race. This will make the event more competitive and exciting. A team Manager can also change the format and starting line up of his team daily and can use any of the two reserves to replace an athlete who completed a leg but is declared unfit by one of the event’s doctors.
The meeting proposed that the run will be more relevant to Ecowas if it is dedicated to ‘Integration’ rather than ‘Peace’ as proposed in the original document. It was agreed that the run be renamed ‘Senegambia Novelty Run for Integration’.
It is also proposed that a full Marathon be included in the events to start from Kaolack and endin in Fatik. The Marathon will start on the same day and time of the run. The runners of the Marathon will spend the day in Fatik and will join the other runners as spectators the next day.
It was decided that the next technical meeting be held in Dakar in July.