By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
When the College Classic Series kicked off on October 19, 1996, the race attracted 19 persons. It has since grown to averaging over 200 persons per race. This year’s 25th edition that kicks off on Saturday, in celebration of the College’s 30th year of existence, will see a leaner, trimmer event because of COVID-19, attracting just 30 persons by invitation only, in keeping with social distancing guidelines.
“This has been a big year,” Mourant College Classic Series Director Stephanie Russ Penn told Island Sun Sports. “It’s the 30th anniversary of the College, as well as noted, the 25th anniversary of the races. While it was kind of uncertain whether we’d be able to do something, the aim was always to do something for sure regardless.”
Russ Penn said this year’s Mourant series will be a bit different because of COVID-19 and the various restrictions. It won’t be the norm with large crowds nor how they want it to be, but they’re hopeful for it to be a time to reflect how long the series has come along in terms of 25 years.
“This year, we’re calling the 25th anniversary special edition and we are going to have five races and the first race is going to kick off this Saturday on Tortola, with special invitations to 30 persons,” Russ Penn noted. “We are inviting persons across age groups across years of participation. We have persons who have been doing this event practically all 25 years of its existence and we really want to have the opportunity to celebrate this event on its 25th year marking.”
The first race on Virgin Gorda is scheduled for October 17. Like the first race on Tortola, that race, will celebrate the College’s 30th anniversary. The second of three races on Tortola will be staged on October 31, which will feature the battle of the Service Clubs—a race for Service Clubs only. The next race is scheduled for Virgin Gorda on November 7. The curtains will come down on the 25th anniversary special edition on November 14 with the elite exchange. This race will focus solely on relay teams, a first in the history of the event and will be different to each of the races.
“We’re going to have 3-person relay teams, with each person doing 2 Miles and we’re going to see what that event is like,” Russ Penn said. “Unfortunately, these events are going to be by invitation only—especially the ones on Tortola—because we do have to keep the numbers within what is allowed based on the current curfew order, in this COVID-19 unpredictable time we’re living in. But we are hopeful to give the updates on what has happened in each race and keep the spirit of the races alive as we move through 2020 and head into 2021.”
The Mourant Race Director said she’s looking more for the idea of celebrating the 25 years that the College Classic Series has been taking place, celebrating HLSCC’s anniversary and celebrating all the families, friends and the many persons who have come out year after year, making the race such an awesome community event.
“It’s more celebratory and participatory than it is in terms of competition,” Russ Penn said. “Participatory doesn’t mean the big numbers that we’re used to seeing. Unfortunately, that’s the part that we won’t have, but we’re happy that we can invite a subset of persons that represent what this race series is all about. We’re looking forward to them and reporting to the community on what’s happening.”
Russ Penn said they’re aiming to have a fundraising event where persons can contribute at least $30, signifying the 30th anniversary of the College and they’re hoping that the community can also assist in that event.
“There’ll be more coming on that as time progresses,” she said. “At this point we’re really excited that we are heading into the launch of the series and looking forward for this the 25th anniversary special edition.”