Episode 199 – Hayden Hawks and Camille Herron

Episode 199 of Talk Ultra we talk with Hayden Hawks and Camille Herron who both won JFK50.

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In other news…

INTERVIEW : HAYDEN HAWKS

INTERVIEW : CAMILLE HERRON

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Salomon Rondane 100 Race Summary – 2020

‘We want as many runners as possible to enjoy Norwegian wilderness and Norwegian mountains.’

All images copyright iancorless.com - all rights reserved.

Established in 1962, the Rondane National Park is the oldest national park in Norway. Covering 963 square km’s, the park contains ten peaks above 2000m, the highest peak being Rondeslottet at 2178m.

Folldal, an old mining village, is the hub for the race with the start and finishing taking place in the same location.

Race day started at 0500 and it was clear from the clear skies that a beautiful day lay ahead for the runners. Maybe too good some would say… 

Although a chill penetrated the early morning air, the arrival of the sun and the early miles warmed the runners up quickly and by the 10-mile point, the format of the racing that would come started to take shape.

Pre-race favourite, Sebastian Krogvig did not hold back early on, opening up a 12-minute lead over the hot favourite, Paul Ogier with 10-miles covered.

For the women, Molly Bazilchuk eased herself in to the day, allowing the early miles to save energy and settle, knowing that a big day lay ahead. She was shadowed by Katrine Andersen.

By 0900, with 4-hours covered, the day was already hot and with a long and tough race ahead, the early miles were best taken easy. With five key aid stations, Nygruva, Dørålseter, Straumbu, Breijøseter and Grimsbu, an ability to be self-sufficient for long periods is an essential characteristic of this race.

A land full of reindeer, mining heritage and traces from the last ice-age, Rondane  provides an opportunity to experience 2000m summits that are very unique and it contast to Jotunheimen, completely different both in look and feel.

At Nygruva, Sebastian was well ahead of the predicted pace and although there had been much talk of 20-hours winning the race, based on the first aid station, sub 16 looked possible. Paul Ogier, running his first 100-mile race had recced all but 5km of the 100 route and with that experience, he paced himself allowing Sebastian to run his own race. Behind, Marius Stengle-Håkonsen, Elvind E Gjøystdal, Staffan Bengtsson, Vegard Triseth and Samuel Fredriksson chased.

Molly, was now taking hold of the women´s race and making her way through the men´s race as was Liv Richter.

Marius Stengle-Håkonsen

Dørålglupen, a wonderful gully of rocks was a significant marker in the race and now Sebastian and Molly were showing there strength. By the aid station Dørålster, Sebastian had opened a lead of over 45-minutes on Paul.

Molly pushing up Dørålglupen

Molly was more metronimic, steady and slowly stretching the elastic over the competition. Liv equally looked relaxed using her poles to climb and descend. Inger Aarberg was looking strong, Katrine Anderson looked to paying a price for the early pace with Molly and Kari Forbrigd, Gro Siljan Hjuske and Inger Haugland looked ready for the long fight ahead.

At all times, the landscape was rewarding the runners with spectacular views. Nestles between rolling mountains, the green landscape was broken with single-track, gravel roads and lakes. The intense blue sky contrasting nicely.

Straumbu was a significant aid point and for many, the key aid before the night section with drop bags available. Sebastian arrived but it was clear that all was not well. Post-race he would confirm that his legs had never felt better, but he had somehow managed to get his electrolyte blance wrong… Sitting in a chair, his heart raced. On medical advice, he withdrew from the race.

Paul Ogier now took the reigns at the front. He looked relaxed leaving the aid station and as he climbed through the forest with the golden sun leaving the day, he looked set for Rondane victory. Marius Stengle-Håkonsen pursued, as did Staffan Bengtsson and Elvind E Gjøystdal.

But Molly was looking increasingly strong with the passing of time and it was clear that the predicted overall podium slot was in contention. Behind, Liv and Inger were having a close battle.

Night is always tough. The leaving of one day, the body naturally craves sleep and rest, for the 100 runner, night time is something to be endured, pushed through and the welcome of a new day brings new life. Luckily, Norwegian nights are not as long as in other places!

Paul and Molly would not welcome the new light on the course, they would both finish their runs in darkness, 20:59:23 and 22:39:07 respectively. Marius would split them in 2nd place overall in 21:42:29. For Molly, it was a 3rd overall placing; an incredible run.

Staffan Bengtsson rounded out the male podium in 24:00:02, placing 4th overall.

Liv fought hard for her 2nd place in 25:26:27…. So hard, she collapsed at the finish and was taken to hospital with a potential stress fracture or kidney issues. It was later confirmd to be kidney issues brought on by a hot day, dehydration and well, running 100-miles! Inger Aaberg completed the women´s podium in 27:33:42.

Coronavirus has stopped racing globally, the impact has been huge. But here, in Norway, a relatively low-key race brought a fierce battle over a truly incredible and beautiful course. 

How beautiful? Well, in some respects, the story of one participant sums it up. He unfortunately took a tumble on the rocks and broke his ankle. After receiving medical attention, he waited for a helicopter rescue and cheered on the runners. Due to demands on the five helicopters that cover the area, he had a long wait… Finally, when back in Folldal, race director Erik Haugland, apologised for the delay. The response was clear, ´Don´t be silly… If you are going to break an ankle, I did it in a perfect place. The scenery was incredible, the waether glorious and I got to cheer on the competitors. I will be back next year!´

Full results are available at racetracker.no

VIEW THE RACE IMAGES HERE

IMAGES CAN BE PURCHASED HERE

Top 5 Male and Female:

  1. Paul Ogier
  2. Marius Stengle-Håkonsen
  3. Staffan Bengtsson
  4. Elvind  E Gjøystdal
  5. Sanuel Fredriksson

 

  1. Molly Bazilchuk
  2. Liv Richter
  3. Inger Aaberg
  4. Kari Forbrigd
  5. Gro Siljan Hjuske

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FREEDOM in a Pandemic

Another summit in Norway with Abelone.

In recent weeks, as restrictions on travel, social distancing and borders open, it has somehow felt that living in the times of a Pandemic is a little like toeing the line at Big’s Backyard Ultra. Instead of running loops around a yard, we wake up each morning for another loop of 24-hours not knowing where the finish line is and when it will come.

Covid-19 for us runners is a very unique ultramarathon.

In all honesty, I do believe that ultra-runners are somehow better adapted for the challenges that a Pandemic brings. Mental fortitude and resilience have come to the fore and when restrictions were really tough, runners rallied with running at home. Virtual suddenly became the next big thing. It filled a gap and brought people together from all over the world in a mutual coming together to enjoy a love of sport and community.

The impact on work has been huge for all and the consequences of this will continue on for months and years on personal levels and business. It’s a sad time.

But early on, I accepted that 2020 would be a wipe out. Being somewhat of an OCD character, this took a little time to adjust too. My year of work was planned out. The schedule was timetabled and suddenly, it was gone… What was full, soon became empty. I have felt my moods swing with positivity and at times I have wanted to put my head in my hands.

But quarantine and social distancing, in all honesty, was no big deal for me. I actually feel that I have social distanced most of my life and sport has only reaffirmed that.

Yes, I enjoy the company of friends. Yes, I enjoy a trail run with company. Yes, I enjoy a beer and a meal with others and yes, I have missed my family.

The summit os Slogen, Norway in July with Abelone.

But I am good alone, in isolation and finding my own footing. Time on the trail has always allowed me to switch off, think, contemplate, plan, work out problems, come up with solutions and form ideas.

When running with others, I am often asked, ‘Are you ok? You are quiet!’

‘I am perfect; I am just out of the office and soaking up the time,’ often my reply. 

In recent months, or should I say for the whole of 2020 so far, I have immersed myself in a new life in Norway with my girlfriend, Abelone.

Little did we both know in February after being at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica that we would spend 24/7 for the coming months together. I laughed early on saying, ‘Well, this is one way to find out if this relationship will work!’

It has been the best thing to come from a Pandemic.

FREEDOM is something I always had being self-employed but the freedom to do ‘my’ adventures was dictated by travel and a hectic work schedule. Freedom often only really came in the middle of the year when I would block off some time in Summer and then December, which I would treat as sacred and my opportunity to explore and adventure.

2020 has seen my diary flipped with little or no work and constant adventure. 

Here is Scandinavia, we were very lucky with Covid (exception coming from Sweden who handled things differently,) particularly in Norway, cases were low, death rates were low and although social distancing was required, our freedom was not impacted. In all honesty, many locals confirmed that the trails in Norway had never had so many people on them in March, April and May. No doubt helped by some amazing weather. 

Scandinavians love the outdoor life and Covid only emphasized the need for space, outdoor adventure and exercise. A wonderful mental and physical prescription that all doctors should prescribe. 

I am used to travelling when I like, eating in restaurants, meeting friends when I want, and I am used to being surrounded by people at a race. Some would say I was free.

But was I?

August is here and I am now looking back at social interactions in 2020 since March and lockdown.

  • I have seen no family.
  • I have seen 4 friends in Norway.
  • I have run on the trails with Abelone and one other person who we had to social distance with.
  • I have interacted with 3 members of Abelone’s family.

And that is it…

So, my freedom was and is still certainly impacted upon and I relish the opportunity to hug a friend, travel back to the UK and see my Mum and my son and equally embrace them like never before.

But no work has allowed me a freedom of time, not financial, to do what I want.

Adventure is on the doorstep for us all.

Now, here in Norway we have a pretty big doorstep. At a third larger than the UK, getting around Norway can take a while but with just 5.5 million people in contrast to 66 million, finding space and social distancing is no problem. Hardanger, Stranda, Romsdal, and Jotunheimen have all been on our list and even 1,2 or 3-day adventures from home have become regular.

Just yesterday, we ran 15km from home, wild camped in an isolated location and then ran 15km home.

I have always been a lone wolf with adventure. At best, I have shared an experience with just one or two others. I like my pace, my schedule and my itinerary and am somewhat inflexible, yes stubborn with changes and I do like to plan. I can see Abelone roll her eyes now…!

Photo ©JanNyka

The escape of outdoor life has always provided me with an energy. I even got that with my work, often hiking out for hours on a trail to sit and wait, alone, for runners to come. 

So, what am I saying?

The Pandemic is rubbish, for sure. Is it going away? I hope so, as soon as possible, but as I said at the beginning, currently we are all running loops at Big’s Backyard Ultra and nobody knows how many loops are to go and when the finishing will come. 

One thing we do have, albeit at varying levels depending on where one lives in the world, is freedom to explore from home. So, embrace what you have and do not think or focus on what you do not have or what you cannot do.

It’s no surprise that FKT’s have never been more popular. 

Many have said, ‘I cannot wait for life to return to normal!’ I agree to a certain extent, normal would be good… But then again, was normal good?

Will life ever be ‘normal’ again, or, are we looking at a new normal?

I don’t have answers.

But I will keep running the loops and enjoy the newfound freedom I have for now.

*****

Have you found freedom in 2020? I would love to know.

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The Immediate Future of Racing post Covid-19

The loneliness of the long distance runner.

Life has been turned upside down. We currently struggle to know what day it is, what month we are in and we have so many questions about what the future holds.

One thing is for sure, at the moment, we have no answers, just many, many questions.

At some point, one day, restrictions will ease…

But, importantly, the day after will be no different. The virus will still be around. We will all still be susceptible to catching the virus, unless a vaccine is found.

Update Apr 29th – ‘Germany’s rate of COVID-19 infections grows after lockdown eased.’

‘Germany faces the prospect of having to restore stricter lockdown measures as its number and rate of coronavirus infections grew again.’

Article available Here

However, it seems to be a general consensus by the experts that a vaccine will not be available till 2021.

We are living in a time of so much insecurity – lives are being lost globally, people are losing work, children are at home and the world is an element of lockdown.

So, talking about racing and running seems a little insignificant and pointless in the context of the above, but I, and I know many of you are asking the question, when will racing return?

Firstly, the race calendar to August has been pretty much wiped out globally. Many races and RD’s accepted the situation, cancelled events and said, ‘we will see you in 2021!’ But, for every race that cancelled, another postponed to a date later in the year in the hope that restrictions would be eased and that the virus would be on the back foot. I get it, nobody wants to cancel an event.

But the postponement scenario has already created an issue with a plethora of races all now scheduled for September, October, November and December. Quite simply, the back end of the season will have more races than runners and we will see participants having to make a choice of which race they toe the line on.

But…

For me, this is the big but, I in all honesty do not see racing returning to ‘normal’ in 2020.

I hate to be pessimistic, but the global situation is so dire that the cessation from lockdown to normal is going to be months, not days or weeks.

Prof Chris Whitty said it was “wholly unrealistic” to expect life would suddenly return to normal soon. He said “in the long run” the ideal way out would be via a “highly effective vaccine” or drugs to treat the disease. But he warned that the chance of having those within the next calendar year was “incredibly small”. – Via BBC News

 

Read

Race cancellation and Covid-19 HERE

Covid-19 – A Guide HERE

Currently, many trails are closed.

THE SHORT-TERM FUTURE OF COVID-19 AND RACING

Firstly, we are going to be in a yoyo period with second and third phase infection as lockdowns are eased. This will create additional peaks and troughs. This in turn, may require governments to reapply and ease restrictions so as to prevent overload on health systems.

It will be a period of controlled herd immunity until a vaccine comes. Needless to say, the old, frail, sick and anyone in care homes will need to be protected.

Suppression measures will slowly be released, firstly with schools returning (this is already happening in Norway and soon Germany,) then retail outlets will open with measures to control how many people can be in a store and controls on social distancing. Restaurants may open with controlled measures such as the client must be seated, only hot food can be consumed, and tables must be spaced accordingly as per government and health specifications.

When one takes into consideration the above, this accounts for May, June and July and of course, in each country, the situation will be monitored. As more people move freely, the virus will spread. If the spread is too great, restrictions may be reimposed to slow the spread down and so on. So, it’s easy to see that planning August, September and beyond is not something one can do with any certainty or guarantee.

Just today, Val d’Aran by UTMB®, has been cancelled and will take place in 2021. Xavier Pocino, director, explained:

“Our priority is the health and safety of the participants as well as the population of the Val d’Aran. Given the current context, it is therefore preferable to postpone the race in order to guarantee the health and logistics of the event. We also wish to respect the dates of other races programmed for after the summer, to avoid a date clash and to allow our athletes to participate in those races, should they go ahead”.

Currently airlines are on a very restricted service, hotels are closed, restaurants are closed, and, in many places, lockdown really does not allow any travel at all. Some are allowed to exercise, from home, for 1-hour.

A picture is building that the transition from lockdown to free movement is more than likely a year away?

If travel is restricted, hotels are closed and restaurants remain unopened, quite simply, racing will be cancelled.

The short-term future of racing will be virtual, and already globally, we are seeing virtual incentives appearing. From simple scenarios of running for a daily specific time, such as 45-minutes. But also, multi-day challenges or even specific distance challenges such as 1000-miles are appearing. Take up has been impressive which only goes to show the desire for competition.

As restrictions ease, races and RD’s will need to be constantly communicating with authorities to ascertain what is and what is not possible. For example, Sweden started with a herd immunity approach in January, avoided lockdown, emphasized social distancing, protected the old and allowed group gatherings of up to 50 people. Whereas, in the UK, for example, in March it was locked down with only essential travel (shopping) and exercise (from home) with other family members allowed.

Nature is the boss.

WHAT MAY RACING LOOK LIKE INITIALLY?

It goes without saying here that maybe ALL races will be cancelled or postponed until the Covid-19 situation is under control or over.

However, there may be a transition phase. Just as children return to school, workers return to offices, runners returning to races may need to adapt.

We all seek isolation and love personal adventure, maybe in the months to come, this will take over from racing?

PRE-RACE

  • Initially, global travel will be reduced and no doubt under control or restrictions. So, maybe races will only allow regional athletes. For example, only French residents can run in French races.
  • Medical certificates may be required that go beyond the standard ECG/ health check with a requirement to include testing for Covid-19.
  • Race briefings, bib provision and all admin will be done electronically so as to reduce pre-race social interaction.
  • Covid-19 appears to have a 14-day ‘active’ period, therefore, 14-days from the race start it will be a requirement to have a medical check or even in extreme cases, runners may be required to go into 14-day isolation/ quarantine before a race start. Any symptoms, no race!
  • No pre-race gatherings.

It can be easy, sort of, to social distance on the trails.

THE RACE

  • Races may have reduced numbers and they will incorporate an element of social distancing to reduce risk. For example, staggered starts of say 10-runners starting at 10-minute intervals. Seeding could be worked out by asking runners to run a 5km time trial and then provide the time to the RD? Racing would obviously be based on chip time and therefore, the race could be more like a time trial.
  • Aid stations may be removed and therefore self-sufficiency/ autonomy will be required both from a food and water perspective. This by default would mean races could only be a certain distance in length. One other alternative could be un-manned aid stations and runners would need to provide sealed drop bags which they could access at specific points. If it was a 100-mile race, for example, 4 aid/ drop stations at 20/40/60 and 80-miles. Again, aid/ drop stations would have social distancing in place.
  • The need for a personal tracking device such as a Spot or Garmin InReach may be required to guarantee security for each participant.
  • Mandatory equipment would need to cover more eventualities. Maybe *face masks and *gloves would be a requirement? *Medical opinion varies on the effectiveness and use.
  • Race routes and courses may well be unmarked and therefore the need for a navigation or a navigation device using a provided GPX track could be a requirement.
  • Volunteer help may be reduced with ongoing implications.
  • Medical support/ safety could be compromised.
  • Extreme or dangerous courses would not be allowed to reduce the potential ongoing need for medical help due to accidents.
  • Finish areas would be isolated with minimal interaction.
  • A ‘finish and go’ scenario once the race is completed.

Parties and any post-race razzamatazz may be on hold for a while.

POST RACE

  • Post-race gatherings would be cancelled.
  • Awards and prizes would be done digitally, and any physical prices would be posted out.

CONCLUSION

The above are ideas and thought processes that have been bouncing around my head while in lockdown.

I actually wonder, faced with the above, how many would still want to race? Maybe all races will be cancelled until they can be run ‘as normal!’

Of course, I do think much of the above may well be fantasy or fiction, but I can see how some of the above could happen. Especially in regard to electronic communication, pre/post gatherings, social distancing and a reduction or change to how aid stations work.

Good friend, respected race director and runner, John Storkamp of Rock Steady Running (in the USA) kindly provided me with some of his thoughts:

“But I also believe that almost none of us want to get back at any cost, especially if it compromises safety.  Our own personal safety or the safety of the communities where our events are held. Once we can return, I for one also fear a diminished race experience with reminders of the virus at every turn, at least initially; i.e. no ritual of packet pickup, no festive pre-race gatherings, no mass starts where we all come together in the collective nervousness and prayer before the start, skeleton crew aid-stations filled with nervous workers exposed to every runner, no post race celebration with the telling of tales of the dragons we slayed out on the course that day.  Races have always provided us with an alternate reality, an escape for a day or two, from the stresses of daily life.  Any post-Covid races, again at least initially, will invite all of the fear of our current daily existence into what has always been one of our safest and most sacred spaces.”

Certainly, with the races I work on and communicate with, they are learning lessons now but are planning for 2021 races to be run as one would expect.

Solo running, time-trial events and FKT’s may prove popular.

*****

I asked on Twitter for some thoughts, here are the responses:

Sarah Canney – Local participants only? Pre and post race outside with masks?

Andrew Smith – I’m thinking there will be pretty much no racing this year and am just going for some personal challenges.  Hopeful next year might look different, but even then there will likely be changes – how much depends on what fundamental changes we will need to make day to day.

Mark Atkinson – Expect a fair few staggered start or time trial approaches with reduced numbers. Possibly smaller but more frequent aid points so if one is too busy you head to the next. I’m going to miss running shoulder to shoulder with a stranger through the night sharing life stories.

Dr Stacey Holloway – Maybe more FKT attempts than races and round attempts? We host a winter race in Jan, but even thinking we won’t be in 2021 and looking for maybe for Nov 2021 event and a Jan 2022 event and having its as some sort of series… not sure just ideas!

Melinda Coen – I’m expecting higher entry fees to help RDs survive  and also lower numbers, wave starts, less buffet aid at ultras and more “packaged foods”.

Via Talk Ultra Facebook page:

Yes, individual starts, unfortunately less a to b-races due to don’t want to gather people on buses. – Henrik

Proof of vaccinations required – Brian

I wonder whether some event organisers will run two or three events on the same day to stagger start times and space people out more. For example, could have a trail run, duathlon, triathlon and aquathlon. Bit of a logistical nightmare in some ways! – Ann

Reduced numbers. Staggered starts, volunteers in face masks and gloves, no more sponge bucket( that one makes me sad).
More crew or drop bags allowed to lessen need for a CP table/buffet. – Shane

Assisting injured runners may be a problem, especially on a trail. – Martin

Races will be cancelled either voluntarily by the organizers or from lack of participation.Some will go away because of financial problems. When trails are open people will do more FKT attempts and solo runs. – Ali

Self supported – no shared food at aid stations – Tim

Less corporate, More self-sufficient, longer distances between aid stations, more map reading or gps guidance less trail marking..all to the good then! – Kevin

 

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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Initial comments re Covid-19, herd immunity and the implications were influenced by an audio interview from, ‘The Post’ with Johan Giesecke – Here

#IRunAtHome April 18 2020 – summary

DONATE HERE

April 18th, 2020, amid a worldwide lockdown due to Covid-19, a global run community came together between the hours of 9am to 9pm with one purpose.

Run at home.

Raise funds for the NHS who are fighting Covid-19.

I could literally write and write about the experience. To see young and old, runners and non-runners globally come together to test themselves #athome was truly mind-blowing and I am still coming to terms with the emotion of the day.

From seeing a 2-year old cover 1-mile to a pro-runner covering 131km on a treadmill, there was no experience too small or large.

A community came together, encouraged, supported, applauded and cheered on as donations flooded in.

I set the goal to raise £10,000 for the NHS and as I write, donations are at £12.222.46 and with Gift Aid £14.131.07. I am leaving the donation page open and I am quietly confident with a little rallying, funds will increase.

So, if you are reading this and have not donated, please go HERE.

I personally did the best I could monitoring all that went on for the 12-hours and I ‘tried’ to message everyone, encourage and support. I am sure I failed as at times, it really was difficult to keep up. Especially when I did my own challenge of a 1000m vertical and descent up and down the staircase in our apartment block.

So, if I did miss commenting, accept my apologies. I am going to try and backtrack and go through all the posts and hit a ‘like’ and make a comment.

Needless to say it has been a magical experience and one that I would like to repeat… Maybe when all this nasty Coronavirus is over, we can celebrate on Apr 18 2021 with a reunion…?

FOR NOW, A HUGE THANK YOU FOR COMING TOGETHER.

As one lady said, ‘I have spent 4-weeks alone and isolated. Today, I was alone once again but virtually I made friends around the world. I shared a mutual experience, did some good and felt loved and wanted.’

Families came together, mum ran with dad, dad ran with mum and the kids did their bit. I know from my end, we had a ball creating something fun and different and in the process, many of us had an art lesson with the bibs.

Below is a collated summary of the day. I have tried to capture as much as possible.

THANK YOU ALL

Race Cancellations and COVID-19

As a runner, you more than likely will take time in the off-season; to sit down and plan the coming season. You will look for the ‘A’ races that hopefully will allow you to shine and achieve those personal goals – you will dedicate hours, weeks and months to prepare.

You will enter ‘B’ and ‘C’ races that will allow you to learn and adapt.

In this scenario, imagine the Race Directors who are planning the races that you will attend. Just as you plan and prepare, so do they, typically one-year in advance so that when the time comes you have a slick, well-prepared event that will allow you to achieve your goal.

Planning and working on a race really is a labour of love and yes, it’s a business.

Race Directors usually start planning immediately after the end of one event. Budgets are worked out, a timeline is put in place and then a team of people, headed by the RD, put a plan in action. This will involve route planning, course marking, providing gpx files, booking venues, planning medical care, arranging for catering, advertising the race, booking cars, maintaining a website, booking a timing system, arranging for photography/video and the list goes on…

It is endless!

To secure services, many of these items are paid well in advance of the race and in most scenarios, a non-refundable deposit will have been paid and at worst, a full balance to ensure that no problems arise.

As an event approaches, typically 8-weeks or less before the event, all invoices are paid and the RD can sit back knowing that a job is well done.

The race fee that you the runner pays doesn’t just cover the day or multiple days of the race, it covers a year or work!

Now imagine you are the RD. You have been diligent; you have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s. You are, you think, prepared for any eventuality and then Covid-19 comes along and rips your world apart.

Read a simple guide to Covid-19 HERE

Podcast HERE and Audio Feed below

Through no fault of your own, your race is cancelled because one needs to take responsibility for the health and safety of not only runners, but staff and their teams. In many situations, this decision is often taken away from the RD as it comes from a government level.

I am asking you all to take stock of the situation, sit back and take time to reflect on the RD, the team of people involved in the race and the implications of cancelling or postponement.

I personally arrived in Hong Kong in January only to find that as my plane landed in HK, the race I was arriving for was cancelled due to the ever-changing Covid-19 virus.

So, as a runner what can you do?

First of all, there is immense disappointment for each of us on a personal level as an event that we have prepared and dreamed of is removed.

Then attention turns to several scenarios:

  • Can I change my travel plans and what will the cost be?
  • Can I get a refund on the race?
  • Will the race postpone and plan for later in the year?’
  • Will the race defer my place and give me entry next year?
  • What about my hotel booking?

The list goes on.

Let’s be clear here, the Covid-19 scenario is impacting on the world at an unprecedented level. Just yesterday, Omar Hassan writing in The Independent stated that:

‘Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills – and that is a real global emergency.’

Millions of dollars have been wiped from the financial markets but this impact filters down and down to a grass roots level and the impact will be huge for all of us.

 ‘If the virus does directly affect your life, it is most likely to be through stopping you going to work, forcing your employer to make you redundant, or bankrupting your business.’

So, when asking the RD and race for a refund on race entry, please just take time to step back and think, in these special circumstances, can you afford to let that fee go so that you can at least provide an opportunity for that race to return the following year.

Most races will have insurance, but having spoken with multiple insurance experts, the general consensus is, ‘Successful claims under business interruption coverage for infection are not common… Indeed, for example, there are no reported cases in the United States regarding business interruption coverage in connection with human infectious disease epidemics or pandemics.’ – via stroock.com

Even sport specific insurance companies who look after runners/ sports people doing ‘extreme’ sports are confirming that there is no cover for disease, virus or pandemic.

In the last week, Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira and so many more have had to pull the plug on a 2020 event. Even the iconic Marathon des Sables has had to postpone and the financial impact of this is still yet to be seen.

In the words of one Race Director, ‘When the Government cancel all Sport Events or public gatherings we are in big trouble, insurance does not cover us in case of pandemics.’

Masako Suzuki, of Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji recently sent out a press release and in it he says:

‘…we apologize for causing great trouble to racers who have been training and preparing for this race, volunteers who have participated in the course maintenance thus far, volunteers who were planning to work during the race, and UTMF supporters including sponsors, companies participating in the UTMF Expo, public and private organisations, and local people.’

The impact is far reaching, cancellations are happening everywhere, and racing is just one aspect. Schools are closing, employees are being asked to work from home, airlines are reducing flights daily and asking staff to go on unpaid leave, hotels are empty, and restaurants are closing. Covid-19 is without doubt a health crisis but it is also an economic crisis.

“It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the deathblow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization and to the era of interdependence of the world’s great nations.” – WND here

One of the key jobs of a race team is risk management, many races, UTMF, MIUT, USM and so on all started to look at logistics and emergency planning long before the decision to cancel was made. The money is spent!

So please, when you ask for a refund or deferment, just ask the question,

‘Can I let my fee go for 2020?’

And in the process, hopefully, the race you entered will be around in 2021.

It is highly likely that some races will not recover from this but we as runner’s and a community, in a small way, can help keep the sport we love alive to fight for another time.

‘I have been organising #USM for some years now with a fantastic team. We always aimed high because we were convinced, he had a SUPER event. We still do,’ João Canning Clode announced via Facebook, ‘This was the most difficult decision we had to take in all these years. But the health and safety of our athletes, teams, local community, fans and volunteers is of vital importance. We move on…’

As a closing note, we all need perspective. Covid-19 is killing people daily and my heart aches for the distress and loss from this pandemic. Italy, as an example, have been hit so very hard and they have now entered Wartime Triage. This is truly catastrophic for all. But the government have stepped up to the plate and suspended payments on mortgages. When asked about the possibility of halting mortgage payments on Radio Anch’io, Laura Castelli, the deputy economy minister, said: ‘Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households.’ I applaud that leadership and foresight. We can all learn a lesson from this action. (Article here)

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