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Racing - The Shape of Things to Come?

Racing Is Resuming in Some Parts of the World - Is this How It Will Be?

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With all the World Marathon Majors now postponed until the autumn, in the expectation that, by that stage, Covid vaccination across the world will have changed the pandemic landscape enough to for health, travel, accommodation and race protocols to have been relaxed sufficiently to enable the events to go ahead.

US Races Go Ahead

Races are already happening in the U.S., with varying degrees of Covid protocols. Time will see how the various Covid protocols pan out. The feedback will be of great interest to race organisers and participants alike. 


Glass City Marathon to Require Vaccination or Negative Test

glass city marathon 2021
The Glass City Marathon, in Toledo, Ohio, USA, on April 25th, with 10,000 entrants, and a waiting list of 500, recently emailed all entrants, to say that they MUST have a negative Covid test, within 72 hours of the marathon, or else they MUST provide proof of full Covid vaccination, completed at least two weeks before the marathon.

However, for other upcoming large events, it is likely that similar requirements to those being implemented in Toledo will be required for all the components in the majors; travel, accommodation and the race itself.

Gate River Run, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Saturday March 20th 2021

gate river run banner 2021
Last weekend, the 44th Annual Gate River Run, doubling as the US National 15k Championship, took place in Jacksonville, Florida, with a significantly reduced field on previous years.  6,733 finished, from a 2021 cap of 8,000, compared to approx. 12,500 every other year. There were also several hundred in a 5k section of the race.  


Race Director's Take on Covid Changes to the Event

Covid brought several changes to the event, including the use of two different starts, with several waves going from each wave.

gate river run march 2021

Speaking in the lead up to the event, Race director Doug Allred said that this year’s race would be a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We intend to put in place a number of social distance guidelines,”  This field is limited to 8,000 runners at 15K. There are also two different starting lines

“You’ll actually experience the course. Most water stations are still there, they run a little differently, and the finish lines will look exactly the same,” Alred said. “As long as people work together and wear the mask for its intended purpose, I think it will work. It’s a safe event for everyone and most people who come will find it a traditional run. Probably. “

A mask is required except when it is running.

“It needs more,” Alred explained the preparation. “We’re doing some small races and we’re using some of the guidelines we use at River Run to see how they go, so they really worked.”

Probably the key lesson is in the last sentence: “We’re doing some small races and we’re using some of the guidelines we use at River Run to see how they go".  For race directors here, get involved with the organisation of smaller events, and see what goes right, what went right and what to improve. All race organisers should be doing that, but now, with Covid hee, we need to share our lessons learnt.

Gate River Run 2021

Will similar requirements be the norm for other races? Probably, but time will tell.  Large race or small, such requirements would introduce a large burden of administration -  Larger events may be able to absorb the workload, or build in scanner systems into their registration, but smaller events probably won't have such luxuries, or the manpower to work them ...time will tell

For the vast majority of us, the past year has been frustrating – and that’s definitely understating things!  Everyone is, literally, ‘chomping at the bit’, hoping that racing, as we knew it, will resume again soon.  However, even among runners, like the population at large on opening up society in general, opinion is divided as to how to organize races safely. Some people will run in races no matter what, while others remain very apprehensive, with the majority somewhere in the middle.

When it comes to virus transmission, races can be both safe and unsafe. Normally, runners aren’t in large groups, except before the start, and after the finish. Road races are entirely outdoors, with complete ventilation and fresh air.  ....But Covid loves social mixing, as do runners and spectators.


Health Protocols in Races

Participants & Volunteers

In the short to medium term, everyone attending an event will, at the very least, need to complete a Covid questionnaire. Another possibility is that Covid vaccination passports, or proof of immunity, will be required.

vaccine passport

Vaccine Passport

Feed Stations

In many races, you will have water stations along the course, where volunteers dispense water, sports drinks, energy gels, fruit, and more. You'll certainly have them after the finish.

No race could function without these volunteers. But, there is always some degree of contact as drinks and other material is passed to the runner, and the water stations are often congested areas, with runners gasping and breathing heavily as they get their hydration drinks, gels, bananas and other goodies.

Then there are, particularly in the longer distances, the inevitable few who finish (or not) in distress. Voluntary first aiders must deal with these. Covid has brought a major source of risk for these invaluable first-aiders.

Clearly the return to racing will bring many headaches for organisers, and, while keeping participants and volunteers safe, the control measures and systems, are probably not going to make the race experience more enjoyable for all. It's certainly going to be a learning experience for everyone involved.

Remember ... We all need to look out for each other if we're going to progress in the short/medium term.

Event Calendar

Recently, Athletics Ireland published a draft calendar for 2021, including Munster Athletics events.

Following the AAI release, Cork Athletics County Board has provisionally booked the MTU (CIT) Track for the last Sunday in August, and the first two Sundays in September.  No events or Age-Groups have yet been assigned to these days, and more dates may be needed.

The format for each day is, as yet, unclear. It would be great - but probably unlikely - if we could have "Normal" T&F days. It may be that we will need to run them similar to the Cross-Country Day held in Riverstick last October, with the site being cleared after each event, hopefully with bigger numbers - we were limited to 200 people on site on that day in October.


Download Draft Athletics Ireland / Cork Athletics Calendar (PDF File)

May Sat-Sun 1 - 2 WORLD ATHLETICS World Athletics Relays
May Sun 16 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS European Race Walking Team Championships
June Sat 5 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS 24th European Athletics 10000m Cup
June Sat 5 ISAA Irish Schools
June Sat 12 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Games + CE Championships (Youth/Junior/Senior/Master)
June Sun 13 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Games + CE Championships (Youth/Junior/Senior/Master)
June Sat 19 ISAA Tailteann Games
June Sun 20 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Junior Championships + U23 specific events
June Sat 26 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Senior & U23 Championships
June Sun 27 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Senior & U23 Championships
July Sat 3 Munster Munster U14-U19 Girls T&F Day 1
July Sun 4 Munster Munster U14-U19 Boys T&F Day 2
July Tue 6 CCS Cork City Sports
July Fri 9 Morton Morton Games
July Sat 10 Munster Munster U12 & U13 Girls T&F & Girls Childrens Games
July Sun 11 Munster Munster U12 & U13 Girls T&F & Girls Childrens Games
July Sat 17 ISAA SIAB Schools Track & Field
July Sat 17 Munster Munster U14-U19 Girls T&F Day 3
July Sun 18 Munster Munster U14-U19 Girls T&F Day 3
July Sat 24 Munster Munster U11-U15 'B' T&F
July Sun 25 Leinster Leinster Childrens Games and U12 & U13
July Fri - Sun 30-8 WORLD ATHLETICS Olympic Games
July Sat 31 Munster Munster Senior & Masters Men & Women T&F
August Sat 7 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Juvenile Day 1 14-19 Championships
August Sun 8 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Juvenile Day 2 14-19 Championships
August Sat 14 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Juvenile Day 3 12-19 Championships (12-13 Field Events)
August Sun 15 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI League Final
August Tue-Sun 17-22 WORLD ATHLETICS World Athletics U20 Championships
August Sat 21 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Childrens Games + 12/13 Track Events and CE U14/U15/U16
August Sun 22 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Juvenile Relays & B Championships
August Mon - Sat 23-28 IUAA FISU Universiade (Athletics)
August Sun 29 Cork Athletics T&F Championships Day 1
September Sun 5 Cork Athletics T&F Championships Day 2
September Sun 5 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Masters Championships
September Fri 10 ATHLETICS NORTHERN IRELAND Northern Ireland International EUROPEAN ATHLETICSP Meet
September Sun 12 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Road Relays
September Sun 12 Cork Athletics T&F Championships Day 3
September Sun 19 Cork Athletics Cork Women's Mini-Marathon
October Sun 17 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Autumn Cross
October Sun 24 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI National Marathon Championships (Dublin Marathon)
November Sat 13 IMAA British & Irish Masters XC
November Sun 21 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Senior, Junior & Juvenile Even XC Championships
December Sun 5 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI Novice & Juvenile Uneven XC Championships
December Sat 11 ATHLETICS IRELAND AAI National 30K World Athleticslks
December Sun 12 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS 27th SPAR European Athletics Cross Country

About Us

Cork Athletics County Board is a constituent member of Athletics Ireland. Cork Athletics is the governing body, administering athletics, track and field (T&F), cross-country (XC) and running in county Cork. The Board comprises elected representatives of constituent athletic clubs and running clubs. Cork County Board AAI organises Championship races and competition, including road, track & field (T&F) and Cross-country (XC), at junior, juvenile, senior and masters levels, and selects representation for the county. In addition, training and education is provided for coaches and officials. The Board also regulates the Athletics Ireland race/event permit (licence) process for county Cork.
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