By Kwame Laurence email@example.com
The Queen's Park Savannah (QPS) will be transformed into a world class cross country venue.
This promise was made by Dexter Voisin at yesterday's launch of the 2011 North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships, at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain.
Voisin, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman, said last November's Developmental Cross Country Run at the Savannah was a trial run ahead of the February 19 NACAC Championships.
"We saw it as a success."
The 2010 edition of the NACAC Championships was staged at the Mount Irvine Bay Golf Course, in Tobago, in March.
"With regards to Tobago last year, the one little disappointment for us was the lack of spectators. For you who know the Queen's Park Savannah, it's a busy area, especially on a Saturday afternoon, so I don't think we have a challenge with spectators.
"One of the reasons for shifting the event from Tobago," Voisin continued, "is because of budget constraint. We had some deadlines to meet so we had no choice but to bring the meet to Trinidad, which reduced our budget considerably."
In 2010, American Max King won the Men's eight-kilometre race in 23 minutes, 49 seconds, while his compatriot, Delilah Di Crescenzo clocked 20:50 to top the Women's 6K.
Voisin is expecting faster times at the 2011 NACAC Championships.
"It's an easier course. We have identified start and finish opposite QRC. The course will take the athletes down into the hollows, back up on the bank, along the rail of the Savannah and the trees–that footpath there–and will make a loop and come back."
The men will make four laps of the two-kilometre course, while the women will run three laps. There will also be junior (under-20) races–a male 6K and a female 4K.
National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), Hyatt Regency Trinidad, National Gas Company (NGC), Blue Waters and Vemco are sponsors of the 2011 NACAC Cross Country Championships.
National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette said hosting the Championships is part of his organisation's "holistic approach" to track and field.
"In the past couple years, we have put our focus on field and it is showing in our results. We want to also develop the distance running."
NAAA secretary Alan Baboolal said Richard Jones and national cross country champion Denzel Ramirez are expected to be part of the T&T men's team.
"We will have a full complement and possibly a very competitive team."
US-based Pilar McShine could spearhead the T&T challenge in the Women's 6K.
"She is waiting for a travel document," Voisin explained. "Once she gets that she will be available."