I’m gonna just put this out there: I am 100% in favor of social distancing. 100.Percent. I am far from panicked, but I do believe it’s a necessary step based on everything I’ve read and some personal friends who are in the trenches. I may not be a doctor, but I am a research librarian. Long before this blog became a thing, I was trained in how to evaluate sources and how to synthesize information.
So, now that we’ve got that out there. Let’s chat. Today (yesterday?) alone, we saw the cancellation of 100s of races. I saw a lot of sadness, and anger, and disappointment. All of these are absolutely valid emotional responses. I get it. I don’t currently have any races coming up on the calendar (I know, what?) and we managed to put on ZOOMA Lost Pines just before it all went crazy, but I get it.
What I don’t get is people who are pissed off at the race directors. Having worked behind the scenes for quite a while between ZOOMA and some prior gigs, I can tell you that there is not a single race director who WANTS to cancel a race. I did not sleep a couple of nights last week because I was so stressed about possibly having to cancel our race. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Canceling a race is expensive. There are a lot of costs that can not be recouped. It is demoralizing – most race directors put a lot of themselves into their race. Canceling a race hits the pocket book and the heart. And it endangers future years. If you can’t refund or offer deferrals, you risk angering runners. If you do, you risk financial difficulties (in some cases guaranteeing the end of a race.) Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. (And let’s be honest, often canceling is not the choice of the race director. It’s the choice of a governing body who pulls the permits.)
What can you, as a runner, do in these situations?
- Be Kind. Seriously. In the case of most races, I bet the race director is just as devastated as you are.
- Be forgiving. Some races may be able to offer refunds, some may be able to offer deferrals or credits toward next year, some may be able to offer a virtual option. None of these RDs are laughing to the bank. They are all trying to do right by the runners, while still staying solvent.
- Run your own race. If you have been training for months, set a date and a time and go run the distance. Post your flat me. Share your run on social media. Just because there’s no official race does not mean you shouldn’t be proud of yourself.
- Find a virtual race. Obviously I’m biased towards ZOOMA because I think our medals are some of the best out there, but we aren’t the only option. (We are however offering free entry into our Fitter Stronger Faster challenge. Swag does cost.) Watch this space for some straight up virtual races soon too.
- Remember why you run in the first place. Most of us did not start running because we wanted to run races. We started running for our physical health, or to fight depression, or to give ourselves a social outlet (at this point in time I’d say it’s ok to meet a friend to run, just maintain some distance). I personally started running because of postpartum depression and I’ll continue running even if I never run another race.