Hopes Soar High for 2023 Sigma Post Lockdown

March 22, 2022

Via Jamaica Gleaner 

With the Government’s withdrawal of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) orders last Friday, faithful participants in the annual Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run hope the new freedom will be a silver lining that will allow thousands of persons to return for road racing at the 25th anniversary of the event in 2023.

With social-distancing laws lapsing, Sigma patrons believe the relaxation could allow for the annual charity event to return to its former glory.

Sashalee Fyffe, a participant in the March 13 Sagicor Sigma Corporate Team Bubble Run, said she felt liberated being able to take to the streets in large numbers without the pandemic-induced restrictions of small groups.

“Don’t get me wrong. I support the mandates put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but I like when more persons came out and there was excitement and a thrill for running the course,” she said in a Gleaner interview.

Andre Sutherland, another Sigma devotee, prefers that the traditional thousands of runners be split into groups next year in order to not have a mass cluster at the start of the race.

“If you do two stagings, in my opinion, then you will have more space for persons to run who really want to run. The invitational will feature more competitive road runners, with persons from schools who are preparing for Champs,” he said, referring to the local high-school athletics championships that occurs annually just before Easter.

For Sunday’s invitational run, there were 133 male participants and 129 female participants. More than 2,000 participants from 50 corporate and other entities turned out for the Team ‘Bubble’ Run a week earlier.

For the 2021 staging of the event, only an invitational run was staged, while a virtual run was hosted in 2020.

In the pre-COVID era, the event would have been filled with tens of thousands of Jamaicans racing through the streets of New Kingston to complete the health challenge of a 5K run/walk.

While celebrating the victory of Jozanne Harris, the female winner in Sunday’s invitational, Alysia Moulton White, vice-president of group marketing at Sagicor, said she is hopeful that the road race will be accessible to thousands of participants on its original route on February 19 next year.

Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run is a unique road-running event designed to inspire fun, fitness and camaraderie among Jamaica’s business and fitness communities.

In the last two years, amid the restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic, the Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run has managed to remain afloat with the support of participants and the private sector.

At the closure of registration for this year’s race, the fundraiser, in aid of Kingston Public Hospital, garnered J$51.4 million.

That amount was boosted by Peter Melhado, chairman of Sagicor Group Jamaica, with a further J$600,000, bringing the total to J$52 million.

Last year, the Sagicor Foundation raised more than $49 million for the Port Antonio and Annotto Bay hospitals.

Moulton White noted that the fundraising drive has not been an easy feat.

“What we’ve been able to do is garner support from several corporate entities who wanted to give over and above their team participation cost,” said Moulton White, emphasising that the virtual run has been supported by the diaspora.

Harris, who won the female demographic of the race on Sunday, was also the female winner in 2021. She was elated to have been victorious for a second consecutive year.

“It’s good to have finished the race. That’s what I came to do, finish the race, have some run, try and better my time from last year. I am happy to have been able to participate and to be a part of the whole event,” Harris said.

This time around, she bettered her 2021 clocking last year by 18 seconds, finishing in 23 minutes and 13 seconds. She placed second and third in previous years.

Nineteen-year-old Noel Ellis, the top-performing male in the invitational, was also thrilled at his victory Sunday.

Ellis, who trains with the University of the West Indies, Mona, team under coach Fitz Coleman, said it was his first Sigma win, having won the Run For Your Heart race back in 2018.

Since the start of the charity road race in the 1998, more than $500 million has been donated to numerous beneficiaries, with a focus on health, children’s, and educational initiatives.