In many places, in-person races are coming back. Of course, we’re still not going to see large races anytime soon. Even the historic Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon, and, closer to home, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon have fallen victim to the health crisis. Race directors have been working tirelessly to determine if their races can be safely held and how to do so.
In the Louisville area, we’ve had some small road and trail races this summer, mostly with limited participants and wave starts. Slightly bigger races are gearing up, however, like the Downtown Doubler 15K and 30K road race across the river in Indiana. In its third year, this growing favorite is on for September 20th, bringing racing safely to the forefront of people’s minds. This post will cover 5 ways to run races safely during this COVID-19 crisis.
- Read the rules—This might go without saying, but it needs to be emphasized. Read the race’s COVID rules. If you can’t find them, email or direct message the race company. Are they going to mail race packets or have designated pickup slots? Are they using a wave start? If so, do you have to sign up for a wave? Make sure to know what to expect on race day, as always. And always abide by the rules. Double and triple check, especially on your start wave. Don’t leave room for error there.
- Stay in your car until start time—We all love and miss the camaraderie of the race scene. Running is usually such a solitary sport, but we all come together at races, whether volunteering or running. Pre-race high fives and hugs are some of the best parts of the pre- and post-race experiences! And, we all have friends we mainly see at races. Instead of the close-up contact, text each other from your cars, or park next to each other and talk. Staying in your car until absolutely necessary will help keep you and the race personnel safe.
- Bring your own—Don’t depend on aid station availability, hand sanitizer, or the usual post-race banana or chocolate milk. Play it safe and minimize contact by bringing your own everything. Carry your own water, pack your own nutrition, and keep a pocket-sized container of hand sanitizer with you. If you really need that post-race chocolate milk, pack it in a cooler in the car. In fact, this is the opportunity to have all of your favorites. Just pack a small cooler for anything that needs to stay cold, and fuel up after you get back in your car.
- Leave the family at home—There’s nothing like seeing your family on a long course or watching them cheer you on as you cross the finish line. To keep them and you safe, have them sit races out for now. They can send you virtual cheers via text or an app like Racejoy if the race uses it. Or write you notes to take with you and open at certain mile marker. If you’re running an ultra and get good enough reception, make a Facetime call at aid stations when you need a pick-me-up. Luckily, as long as you get cell reception, you can have them there “with” you.
- Wear a mask—Above all, wear a mask at the start line and when you are close to other runners. Remember, it’s about keeping your germs to yourself. Good mask hygiene is important, especially when sweating as much as you do at a race. Take your mask on and off carefully by the ear loops and keep it in a Ziploc bag in your pocket. Our button bands can make that easier, especially when wearing sunglasses or earbuds. They allow you to quickly slip the ear loops over the button, avoiding the ear entirely. You can add buttons to any of our bands for free simply by placing a note in your order.
We’re all dreaming of the day when we can gather at races like before and hug and celebrate together. We truly miss seeing our Ponya family at races. That’s going to be put on hold for awhile, unfortunately. In the meantime, race safely, and we’ll be back together soon!