first meeting of the technical committee of the Senegambia Novelty Run was held
in the Gambia last Friday at the Senegalo Gambia Permanent Secretariat at Cape
Point in Bakau.
The Senegalese delegation was led by Cheikh Boye, first vice president of Senegalese Athletics Association. Prior to that on Friday, the delegation paid a courtesy call on the Senegalese Ambassador to The Gambia before the start of the consultative meeting.
The Senegambia Novelty Run was conceived by George Gomez in 2012 and over the last few years, it perfecting the event by discussing and seeking the views and ideas of several individuals and organisations like the World Runners in the UK. The event is a relay run from Banjul to Dakar, starting in Barra and ending in central Dakar; a total of 308 kilometers.
It will be the longest relay run in Africa and going by the plan, the event will take 3 full days to complete and athletes will have night stops in Kaolack and Mbour.
George Gomez chaired the consultative technical meeting and Gambia Athletics Association technical team led by President Alhaji Dodou Joof represented Gambia.
Senegalo Gambia Permanent Secretariat executive secretary Paul Joof said the event will immensely contribute in regional integration with the potential to attract participation from the entire Ecowas region.
He said it can also attract participants from other parts of the world and can enhance tourism in the two countries.
Mr. Joof said the idea to dedicate the event to the presidents of Senegal and The Gambia was a good one and would help to cement the relationship between the youth of the two countries. “It is good to see officials from the two countries working together on a project like this. I wish you all well in your discussions.”
Minutes of the first meeting in Dakar last December were reviewed where the technical director of Senegal Athletics Association Fatou Sissoko reported on the exercise carried out under her supervision to mark the route from Amdallai to Dakar. She said the routes had been marked for every 10 kilometers and the water points have been identified. “The end point of the run in Dakar is yet to be determined because it requires Senegalese security input.”
The run, described to be the first of its kind in Africa will be a 3 day event of sports and culture. The race will start in Barra in The Gambia and end in the Senegal capital, Dakar. “During the run, we encourage cultural groups to lineup along the road with villagers to welcome and entertain the athletes. 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 athletes who completed a leg but declared unfit by one of the event doctors.
The meeting also 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 event to start from Kaolack and end in Fatick. The Marathon will start the same day and time with the run. The runners of the Marathon will spend the day in Fatick and will join other runners as spectators the next day.