You may have started to see some posts about local races in San Diego returning this summer. It’s been a long, long road (no pun intended) but it’s so exciting to FINALLY be back to planning races. Our first race back will be Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon & 5K and we cannot wait!
But it all begs the question, so what will these races look like? What’s this “new normal” that we keep hearing about? We wanted to share a few quick thoughts so we can set some expectations as you prepare for your first race back.
What is the Risk of In-Person Racing? Around the world, certain regions and countries have started to have some races. By doing so, we have great data about the risk to COVID exposure in an outdoor setting like a run. Some of the most notable included the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in March in Japan with about 5,000 runners, Spartan Jacksonville, FL in February with 6,000 participants, Spartan San Antonio in March with 5,500 participants, Gate River Run in Jacksonville, FL in March with 8,000 participants and Tough Mudder Atlanta in April with 6,200 participants. All these events occurred without any documented transmissions.
What COVID Protocols Did These Events Have? For these events, they used masks at the start line, social distancing guidelines throughout the process and they obviously held all activities outside. However, one thing they didn’t have is widespread vaccine usage. To date, over 50% of the San Diego population has received at least one vaccine dose and this percentage continues to climb every week.
What Should We Expect from California Events After June 15th? For California residents, you likely have heard about Governor Newsom’s economy re-opening date of June 15th, assuming no setbacks with COVID. In conjunction with that, community events (e.g. races) would be receiving protocols and guidance from the California Department of Health. As we write this blog, we are still waiting on that guidance. However, some of the expected guidance is as follows:
- Encourage participants to wear a mask at the start line and finish area where it has the risk of being crowded. It’s not clear yet whether it will be required. But at the very least, we will encourage participants that want the extra protection to wear a mask.
- Give participants 3 feet of space where possible. It’s been so long since we’ve all been in a crowded space, whether at a packed concert or a packed start line! I think we can all appreciate wanting just a little space at the start line. While it’s not clear what the start line protocol from the State of California will be, we plan to ensure participants have a little more room to spread out wherever possible. That actually sounds kind of nice!
- Reduce areas of congestion. You know when you finish and there is that back-up at the finish line table to get your food and medal? We will be spreading those areas out and really encouraging you to move quickly through the finish. There are other safety benefits to this that are unrelated to COVID. So we’ll be reviewing each area to reduce the congestion as much as possible.
- Keep doing what races already do, social distance. We all are aware that maintaining social distance dramatically reduces the spread of infections like COVID. The beauty of racing is within a few hundred meters of the start line, runners naturally create social distance for themselves as they find their space to run.
As we mentioned, we are still waiting on additional guidance from the State of California so this all will remain fluid. But given what we already know, we are highly confident racing will come back as safe, if not safer, than ever.
Until then, we’ll keep counting down to seeing you at our first start line back in less than 3 months!