The Bermuda Half Marathon Derby has traditionally been a local affair and race director Debra Saltus would prefer to see it remain that way.

Unlike some of her colleagues, Saltus strongly opposes having non-residents compete in the 13.1 mile road race.

She describes the annual road running spectacle as an integral part of our heritage and believes it’s paramount that steps be taken to protect the iconic race’s uniquely Bermudian characteristics.

“The May 24th Derby should strictly be for Bermuda and its residents who fall under whatever the criteria is for running,” Saltus told the Bermuda Sun.

“We have the International Race Weekend that we open up to all and sundry and as far as I’m concerned let’s leave this (May 24th Derby) within our community so that people can feel that this is something Bermudian because we don’t have a lot that we can call our own.

“My feeling is why can’t the race be competitive among our own because we do have a lot of people here that participate.

“We have already opened the door to the ex-pat worker who is resident in Bermuda, which I don’t have a problem with.

“If they (ex-pats) are living and working in Bermuda I don’t have an issue with that because they are a part of our culture and community. But when we are looking at these tourists I think we need to keep something of our own for Bermuda.”

Bermuda Half Marathon Derby president Gina Tucker begs to differ.

She feels it’s time that organizers start looking outside of the box to help the race go from strength-to-strength.

“Change is growth and growth means change, and I don’t think that we can ever assume that we are growing and developing without changing,” Tucker told the Bermuda Sun.

“We have to look at how we can transcend where we are now and put Bermuda on the map and make this event second to none internationally.”

Debate

Tucker said she doesn’t see any harm in allowing non-residents to compete in the iconic road race.

She added: “I don’t think it will hurt having tourists join the event. I think it can only help the event and Bermuda as a whole with tourists being here contributing to our economy.”

Tucker believes the new policy will help raise local running standards in the long run.

“Having tourists participate will take the event up a level and so if our top runners are challenged that only raises the bar on the event.”

“It’s important that we as a community look at how we can grow our participants and grow our runners and I think this (rule change) raises the bar for everyone to participate even at a higher level.

“There will always be people who disagree with change and we can debate forever, but I think that as a community we will see the greater good of it.”