By Tony Mariadass
ROAD races, which have gained popularity with Malaysians in recent years, have run into trouble.
They face the grim prospect of being wiped out from the local scene, for this year at least, as all events of mass gatherings are stopped by the government due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sponsors are running away too, leaving many organisers in despair, and worrying about the future of road races, which usually involve mass participation from Malaysians from all walks of life.
For the runners, social or competitive, the road ahead is paved with uncertainty, notwithstanding that Malaysia has a strong running culture, where not a week goes by without a few road races held around the country all these years.
Organisers of road races, from state athletics associations to clubs, have been badly affected, especially financially.
Most of the road races are concentrated in the Klang Valley but they have caught on in states like Pahang, Penang, Johor and Terengganu.
The Federal Territories Kuala Lumpur Athletics Association (FTKLAA) are among those suffering financially after all of this year’s road races could not be held.
Now, FTKLAA are looking to the Kuala Lumpur Sports Council or City Hall for grants to continue with their events and programmes.
FTKLAA president Datuk S. Vegiyathuman said: “FTKLAA are among the few athletics associations who are very active all year around.
“Mainly, our source of funds for our programmes comes from sanction fees (which is nominal) and assisting to organise runs for companies, clubs and event managers.
“Considering the severity of the pandemic, it is expected to take some time before events of large gatherings are allowed.
“While some funding comes from KLSC or City Hall and sponsors, the bulk of our funds comes from the races that we sanction or assist in organising.
“We also have operating cost, which is about RM2,000 a month. Unlike most state AAAs, we have an office (at the OCM building) and two full time staff.”
Vegiyathuman said FTKLAA assist in organising a minimum of 20 runs annually.
State AAs receive RM5,000 yearly from the Malaysian Athletics Federation.
“Our operation cost per year for our development events and annual meets for athletics, cross-country and walks is easily RM200,000.”
Selangor AAA secretary Rahim Mohd Noor said they assist in organising about 20 runs a year, and that their income has been affected.
“We work closely with the Selangor Sports Council and they assist us in our events. But without income from road races, we are really stretched,” he said.
Pahang AAA secretary Datuk R. Annamalai said they assist and sanction about 20 to 25 runs annually, and events like the IUUM Marathon and half marathon Pahang Beach Run are their main source of income.
“Some events have been postponed and we do not know whether it will be cancelled like many others.
“We work closely with the Pahang Schools Sports Council and we now have to depend on them more to do our development programmes.”
Johor AAA secretary V. Mathivanan said they were luckier as the Johor Sports Council assist them greatly, although runs, too, bring them income.
“We do not have as many runs held like in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor or Penang, but these events still provide us additional funds which is now lost,” he said.
Penang AA secretary V. Govindsamy said his association, who organise about 50 runs annually, have been drastically affected financially too.
Source: Rocky road ahead