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.

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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

Episode 185 – Kilian Jornet, Albert Jorquera and Michael Wardian

Episode 185 of Talk Ultra is a Quarantine Special with Kilian Jornet and Albert Jorquera talking about  Yo Corro En Casa and Michael Wardian talking about winning, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra.
*****
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
*****
00:32:14 ALBERT JORQUERA
*****
 
01:04:55 KILIAN JORNET
*****
 
 
01:16:28 MICHAEL WARDIAN
*****
Please read three articles that coincide with is podcast:
Race Cancellations and Covid-19 HERE
Covid-19 : A Simple Guide HERE
Home Office HERE
*****
Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
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Spotify HERE
Stitcher
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02:22:00
Keep running
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Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

Home Office – Hints ‘n’ Tips

How many of you have dreamed of working from home?

I can sleep in, be a little lazy, not get dressed, take a break when I want, sneak a movie in maybe… The list goes on!

The reality is, working from home is not all it is made out to be. It can, for some, be a terrible experience.

I have been working for myself for over 25-years and pretty much in all that time I have worked remotely, be that in my home, a hotel or yes, even on a beach.

Working remotely has many benefits BUT it requires dedication, will power and some strategies in place to make it an efficient, productive and enjoyable time.

My favourite office.

The secret is ROUTINE but having flexibility in that routine to gain from some of the benefits that having a home office brings.

ROUTINE

Firstly, do you need to work at specific times? This is particularly important for example, if you need to be available on email or phone in specific work hours. If the answer here is yes, then you will have a start and end time to structure your day around.

However, if your working day is more flexible, this is when working from home can give you some real benefits.

Let’s assume your working hours are normally 8-hours per day plus 1-hour in breaks. Also, let us consider if you would normally have commute time to an office job with working hours, 0900 – 1800. If you had to get up at 0700, to leave home at 0800 to commute 1-hour to the office and then still have a 1-hour commute at the end of the day, with home offering you have already gained 2-hours with no commuting – result!

Photo ©jannyka

But you need regular hours:

  • Set a start time – let us say 0900
  • Set a finish time – let us say 1800
  • Set breaks and a lunch break – 1030 for 15min / 1230 for 30min / 1500 for 15min

By getting up at your ‘normal’ time, 0700, you easily gain 1-hour free time for indoor exercise/ admin/ children time or whatever it may be.

Equally, at 1800 if you would normally commute home for 1-hour, you can use this time as free personal time.

You can use an APP to keep you honest:

Toggl: Time Tracker for Work HERE

RescueTime – For ideal work-life balance HERE

But, remember, the time is your own, you work the day to suit you, for example, you could start your work day at 0700 and be finished by 1500 hours, and in the process you create a chunk of free time you did not have before.

SET GROUND RULES

It’s easy to say as working from home as an opportunity to say in pajamas and be a slob all day. Why this ‘may’ work for some, from experience I have found it a much greater idea to pretend that you are still going to the office.

  • Set an alarm to wake.
  • Have breakfast.
  • Enjoy additional free time – maybe walk/ exercise/ write/ spend time with family?
  • Shower
  • Dress for work, albeit, one can be more casual.
  • Start work on time.

By setting the above ground rules for yourself, you will have an opportunity to make sure you have a productive workday.

WORKING SPACE

The size of your home will depend on what options are available. However, best practice is to designate a place that is the ‘office.’ It’s all too easy to use the kitchen table, but daily life and other people can get in the way. Ideally, a separate room with a desk, and separate phone is the perfect scenario. Consider a standing desk, they are really a great way to work and better for you. Many options are available and for example, adjustable ones can be lowered providing an opportunity to sit down as and when required.

©Desk by Ikea that adjusts from seating and standing.

HIIT

If you want to keep fit, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is something that can be incorporated easily in a daily routine, especially when working for home. You could do, 1,2,3 or even 4 sessions of 10-minutes each. In simple terms, HIIT is all about working as hard as possible for a short period of time. Depending on the individual and current fitness levels, sessions would vary, however, a starting place would be as follows:

  • Burpees
  • Push Ups
  • High Knees
  • Jump Lunges
  • Knee Raises
  • Skipping

You perform each of the above with 10 reps aiming for them to be completed in a window of 30-seconds and if possible, you will have 10-seconds rest in each 30-second block. For the skipping, you skip for 20-seconds and rest for 10.

So, the above is 3-minutes to complete, you could aim for 3 sets with a total time of 9-minutes. In your schedule you could plan this to happen before breakfast, morning break, lunch break and afternoon break. Suddenly you have 4 sets of 9-minutes with a total HIIT time of 36-minutes. A great way to burn calories, increase metabolism, get healthy both in body and mind.

Struggle for motivation? There are many online platforms and phone apps that you can use as guides and you can even set alarms. Options HERE

Here is an alternative:

  1. Jumping Jack
  2. Wall Sit
  3. Push Up
  4. Crunch
  5. Step Up
  6. Squat
  7. Tricep Dip
  8. Plank
  9. High Knees
  10. Lunge
  11. Push Up with Rotation
  12. Side Plank

The above is the 7-minute workout as listed on ‘Greatist’ HERE – “Grab a timer or download a stopwatch app. Perform the exercises in order, completing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds. Be sure not to compromise form for speed. Rest for 5 seconds between exercises. To make this work out even more challenging, complete the circuit 2 or 3 times in a row.”

RULES

If you are flying solo, the only rules are with yourself. However, if you are living with a partner, are married, have children; then you need rules so that your work time is sacred. It’s all too easy to get distracted and pulled away from work because situations in the home happen.

Don’t shortchange yourself from breaks and lunch. It’s easy to just work and work. Time away from the computer is good for the mind and it allows you to freshen up and gain some perspective. Work productivity benefits from time away.

PHONE AND VPN

Having a separate work phone is a great idea and this avoids situations of personal life impacting on one’s work time. Also, a VPN is a great addition. Many apps exist that allows you to connect to a secure network and if required, you can change location to enable you to work more productively and safely.

MEETINGS AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

Working from home can be lonely and usually it is for a specific type of person. However, in these modern times, there are many ways that one can interact with colleagues and still have social interaction. Many communication methods now offer the ability to use FaceTime where one can use the camera on a laptop or phone to not only show a caller yourself, but also so you can see the person you are talking too. This can be a huge boost to your day. Consider looking at Skype, WhatsApp and Viber amongst others.

DISCIPLINE

The downfall of working from home is a lack of discipline. There is no need to be hard on oneself, but equally, do not be too soft. It takes focus to get a job done from an unconventional space. However, once you have managed to do this at home, you will soon find that an office can be anywhere in the world and yes, that can mean a hotel.

END THE DAY

When one works from home, it is very easy for the day to continue because it is easy… There is no commute and the office is always at hand. Set a finish time and stick with it. Finish. Close the office door and then do not enter until the following morning at your pre-planned start time.

GET OUT

Finding time outside is particularly important when home is also the office. The need for fresh air, some sun and getting at least 30-minutes of moving/ exercise is essential for the mind and not only the body. Remember, working from home will give you more time, so, plan a pre-work session, maybe a lunch walk and/or a post workday exercise regimen. Make it personal. Find out what works for you! Spend more time with the people that matter!

SOCIALISE

It’s important to interact with people, especially when works from home. So, make sure you take opportunities to dine out, meet for drinks and/ or enter a club or gym. Maybe you have always fancied an evening class but could never find the time?

FINALLY

Working from a home office is a real luxury. If you make it personal, you will find that after the breaking in period of two to four weeks, you will never be able to go back! The freedom a home office brings is truly special. The flexibility, the extra hours gained, the opportunity to be fully in control of your own space is something quite special.

Follow on:

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facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

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Episode 184 – Stephen Goldstein Ph.D

Episode 184 of Talk Ultra is a Covid-19 special with Stephen Goldstein Ph.D. who is currently a postdoctoral researcher associated at the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics studying viral evolution, including the evolution and origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
*****
 
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
 
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
 
Donate HERE
 
*****

Please read two articles that coincide with is podcast:

 Race Cancellations and Covid-19 HERE

Covid-19 : A Simple Guide HERE

 
*****
Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
 
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
 
*****
 
 
 
Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
 
 
 
Website – talkultra.com

Pre Race Nerves!

A lack of eye contact.

Head dropped low.

A runner sits down opposite and breaks the thoughts, space interrupted!

Gaunt in features with eyes deeply recessed into his face, this is a runner on the edge.

Is it the expectation of competition and personal pressure to succeed that keeps him in this solitary world or is he a loner?

A question comes from the runner opposite. It’s unwelcome.

Without lifting his eyes a mumbled response.

Pardon?

Eyes remain down. His right hand returns the fork to the plate and with his index finger he raises his glasses and rubs vigorously at his eye!

Eyes now read with irritation he sets his chin on his left hand, sighs and forces a response from within.

The desire to get away from conversation is visible. He squirms in his seat.

A failed attempt to leave provides an opportunity for another question.

This time, no answer.

He stands, nods and without a word leaves.

Tomorrow is race day!