A 4th SMSP Group’s Trail that was hold under the sun and an epic edition as 287 runners presented on the starting line, all tracks combined, a record since 2020.
Discussions started back in january 2023 in order to organize the 4th edition of SMSP’s Trail.
As a reminder, the Trail SMSP is an annual event of the group launched in 2020, in Ouaco, to celebrate SMSP Group’s 30st birthday.
After Ouaco, Kouaoua and Poya, the Trail was to take place in Nakéty, Canala City Hall, as it is the fourth operating site of the NMC, a subsidiary of SMSP group.
In July 2023, the legitimate customary authorities in Nakéty validated the principle of the event and allowed preparations to begin.
With the help of a Steering Committee set up after the first meeting, SMSP and NMC worked with the representative authorities of Nakety, Canala City Hall, and the active members of Nakety tribe, in particular the Parish Committee and the School’s Parents Committee to organize the event. Everyone feels concerned and mobilize in order to involve all inhabitants, existing associations and surrounding inhabitants’ tribes to meet all the needs of the event.
Hard work put in by everyone allows the first runners to be welcomed as early as Friday 20 October at 2:00 PM, as planned. The first tent barely mounted that already the ballet of cars began to fill the large football field of the Mission.
The field was made available free of charge by the Mission’s two football teams, AS Nakéty and the Sportive Club XWASÜ. Players from these two teams ensured the site’s security and clean-up, respectively.
At 4:30 PM on the same day, the representatives of the organization, SMSP group, NMC, Challenge organization, now the usual partner of the group’s Trails, and the campers already there, gathered to present a gesture of “good morning” and thanks for the work already done with the authorities of Nakéty, the commune of Canala, the customary and the inhabitants of the Mission.
A song was performed by the women of Nakety to welcome the event and its people. A moment of sharing and cohesion with the many runners already present and the members of the organization.
This official opening gesture was followed by a snack offered by the women of Nakéty that the campers welcomed happily after at least three hours driving.
While the rest of the runners who had planned to camp arrived in the late afternoon, the women began preparing dinner, which was served by 7 PM. Runners enjoyed traditional Caledonian tubers, yams and tarots, as well as a welcome chicken soup in the evening as temperatures began to drop.
In the early evening, at around 6 PM, members of the AS Nakéty football team set up to ensure the security of the entire site, from the tents on the football field to the toilets next to the Church. The second entrance, inside the Mission, leading directly to the NMC Mine, was closed and guarded.
The next morning, Saturday 21 October, the camp quickly awoke to the first light of day at 4:00AM in the morning. The Maü Association in charge of breakfast, already in place, offered a solid and nutritious breakfast to the runners.
The Grand-Raid departed at 6:30AM and 67 runners set off for 25 kilometers via the NMC and Ballande concessions, called Edouard, Lucienne 1 and Lucienne 2.
An opportunity for participants to witness from the ridges, the loading in progress in Nakéty Bay where tugs and barges transport the ore from the seashore to a ore tanker chartered by SNNC, the Korean subsidiary of the SMSP group.
Ballande also provided security and supervision for the runners as they passed through its concessions, where they could see a seed field and glimpsed a defensive zone, a protected environmental zone, further away.
At the same time, at the Village of the Trail, in the Mission of Nakéty, the first shuttles began to fill up to bring the 159 runners of the 11km Mini-Raid to the Pass of Petchekara from where they departed at 7:30 AM. Runners could varied landscapes, with a demanding difference in height all along.
Eventually, around 8 :30AM, from the Mission of Nakety, the plantation track start was given to the 61 registered participants.
Main of the participants were children and their parents, but also some groups of friends.
In addition, a group of about 20 children from the Association Sport Action came especially from Rivière Salée, Nouméa, for the event. And it was one of their younger members who crossed the finish line first.
Even though, the third track is called « Plantation track », and was led inside the tribe of Nakety, it wasn’t easy as the first few meters were about a very steep slope that left a lot of parents behind as the children kept running far ahead.
Along the path, they could admire and enjoy a bamboo sheltered river before joining the plantation area.
Margaux Lussignol and Sofia Konyi from NMC environment team and their subcontractor in Nakéty, welcomed the children while they were finishing to prepare the area.
Quite a break for some children, some others were eager to just keep running, itw as challenging though joyful moment for all, children, parents and preparation team.
Our thanks to the guides posted all along the way to ensure safety of the children and that they follow the right track.
The runners of the two bigger tracks, reached the arrival line into Nakety’s Mission around 9:00 AM, as the weather was nicely cloudy yet letting the light of the sun pass without the heat being overwhelming.
The runners were tired but delighted with their journey and the experience.
Above all, from Friday to Saturday, it is important to acknowledge and thank the quality of the runners, carrying good humor, smiling and willing to share. They contributed greatly to the good atmosphere felt during the two days.
They relaxed as they walked around the Trail’s Village l where the craft stalls had been set up. The inhabitants of the Mission of Nakéty, but also of the tribe of Nehô and the surrounding area offered quality stall, colored, decorated and supplied with basketry, seams and other decorative or practical handmade objects (baskets, hairpicks etc.).
As the runners kept crossing the finish line, the kitchens were busy providing food for the runners as quickly as possible. Football teams worked hard to prepare skewers, a favorite among runners who eagerly take large quantities of skewers to go home and have a ready meal for dinner.
“Store” also offered refreshments and other sympathy for the taste buds.
Parents who wished to leave their children early in the morning were able to do so in a child surveillance area operated by Nakety’s School’s Parent’s Committee.
They were able to benefit from a braiding workshop, as well as a makeup workshop.
Also, to their great delight, under the watchful eye of one of the supervisors, children could enjoy an inflatable castle shaped like a Komatsu truck. Partner on the Trail, Komatsu made this inflatable castle available free of charge, and also donated Komatsu hats and straw hats.
Komatsu is currently active on the SMN mine of the Ballande group, and is the first supplier on Caledonian territory to offer excavators that are so-called hybrid, that is to say both electric and operating with fossil energies. An example of a direct energy transition for the youngest but also for the oldest.
As on every SMSP Trail since 2020, the Nakety’s NMC Mine Center also offered free mine tours on its mine.
Two slots were offered at 9:00AM and 11:00AM and allowed 48 visitors, equipped by the center of Nakety, to discover the site in operation, with a stop on a viewpoint to observe the loading of the ore tanker in progress, before joining an equipment not necessarily known to the non-initiated, a scalper.
As planned, at 1 :00PM, all runners and visitors were called to gather around the SMSP tent, surrounded by the flags of all our partners in order to proceed to the award ceremony.
A total of 22 awards were presented: filled baskets made by the women of Nakety, sculptures from the Canala Cultural Center, and the result of the work of local artists, gift vouchers from our partners and goodies from SMSP and NMC.
The awards were presented by representatives of SMSP, NMC, but also by the customary authorities of Nakety. It was thanks to the support of these authorities that it was possible to mobilize the inhabitants and ensure that the races and activities ran smoothly. In addition, the Canala City Council has provided constant logistical support with the mobilization of its staff, and essential equipment such as screens, tables and chairs.
This year, the Trail SMSP is proud to have been able to count on 8 partners whose generosity has enabled the participants to be properly rewarded, including the youngest ones.
As such Ateliers Morand, Decathlon, Terre de Running, La Cabosse d’Or and Form+ donated generous vouchers that were all distributed to participants.
Komatsu has ensured the success of the child surveillance space.
The subsidiary, SMN, Société Minière de Nakety, of the Ballande group, has contributed greatly to the smooth running of the 25km route which passes both on the NMC concessions and on the Ballande concessions. The SMN team made sure to mobilize the necessary resources to ensure the safety of the runners, and graciously provided an additional light tower for the Trail’s Village site.
Moreover, as usual, the SMSP group was able to rely on its subsidiaries, in particular Koniambo nickel, which contributed financially. The NMC, which mobilized its staff and budget to offer mine tours, and a plantation workshop. And finally the SNNC, which donated t-shirts and towels, which were offered to each of the runners of the three courses, with a SMSP USB’s key.
Following the award ceremony, a group photo was taken with the runners, craftsmen and mothers in the stands, but also with all the inhabitants of Nakety. A warm, authentic moment of cohesion to close the award ceremony.
At about 3:00 PM, a customary gesture of return and thanks was presented by the Nakety Mission to the SMSP, the NMC and its partners for this successful day.
Finally, dance troupe Nêdökwé symbolically closed the day with a series of traditional kanak dances in an atmosphere of respect, contemplation and gratitude for this successful Trail Day.
Thank you all for this moment and see you next year for the 5th edition!