posted September 2, 2020
Well, it has been quite a 2020 hasn’t it! After a long, LONG hunker I’ve been slowly coming out of my cave to think about what the future looks like and in doing so have been talking to many of my other race director friends, as well as my just regular old friends. This includes running with Mark Hauber in Redwood Regional Park, which is a lot of fun.
So here’s what I’ve been thinking. Some of this leads to decisions about the upcoming calendar, some of it doesn’t:
>> Covid 19 and the things that we need to do to protect ourselves will be around much longer than any of us care to imagine. There simply isn’t going to be a ‘silver bullet’ to the pandemic, even if there are stronger treatments and a vaccine. I know people have different views of this, some of them political, so I offer this as mine and I offer it apolitically so you understand the decisions I make about our events.
>> Fire danger is not going away, either. It’s obvious. We went from having the ‘fire of a lifetime’ when Santa Rosa burned down and since then we’ve had months of fire and human tragedy, along with the bad air, rolling blackouts, and evacuations. This year, the fun has started even earlier than in the last few.
>> Many of our athletes are more than a little depressed. All along, the allure of events has been their ability to get us out of the house, away from our computers, off our cell phones out into a world of wonder, personal challenges, and new friendships. The impact of the events being canceled has been hard-felt by many of our athletes who still long to be connected to one another. It also has had a huge impact on the community involved in the Healdsburg Turkey Trot, which brings so many families together and this has led to many crying face emoticons on my Facebook posts.
So, here are some of my developing guiding principles:
>> Health matters. We should expect that events will need to maintain the same protocols around social distancing, mask-wearing etc, that we have in the rest of our lives. It also means that events may need to be canceled, though I hope not. Thankfully, some good standards are being set in the race world.
>> Being together matters. It’s worth pulling together 2021 events, even with all the ambiguity of the world. We all need to plan and want to imagine a world where we can do some version of the things we’ve done in the past.
>> Having different options for events, including virtual runs may be worthwhile. I’ve been a big hold out on this because I think doing things live is what it’s about. But after talking to some of the other race directors and runners, I see that virtual and new-fangled approaches create a way that we can run in places in smaller groups, on a schedule that takes into account the preceding two points.
And this is what I’m setting out to do:
>> Starting yesterday, I’ve begun planning to race. The first race I’m putting together is Napa Valley Endurance Run. This may be a surprise to some because I privately told folks that I was planning to retire this race. It’s been one of those things that I’ve done because I thought it was cool to do and the race dovetailed with one of my oldest friendships, which is how we have access to the trail. It was also an event that I wasn’t completely sure we could pull off, which is (not surprising to those who know me) something that turns me on. But we’ve done it and I thought it was enough. On reflection, though, this is just a really awesome run and is rich in meaning for me.
>> Yesterday, I also cancelled the Healdsburg Turkey Trot because the city isn’t permitting events. I’d like to create some options. This is our biggest event of the year in terms of the people involved and they come in big family groups from all over the state. It’s a big thing in Healdsburg and I’ve been very proud to organize something that is a flashpoint of civic pride and togetherness. So, I’m trying to imagine alternatives, which may range from just encouraging people to run at any time in their old Turkey Trot shirts, to staging a virtual event with new shirts and what-have-you. I’ve just been thinking about this for a day so give me a few more.
>> There may be a virtual Skyline 50k that will kick off in the next few weeks. I’m also sorting out how best to organize this.
>> Sonoma Women’s Triathlon, Skyline 50k, and Dick Collins Firetrails will continue in 2021 as planned. I’ll work over the year for each of these events to make them safe and will likely open the registration at first without taking money until we know we’re a go.
>> Ancient Redwood Running Festival is retired indefinitely. It’s just too hard for me to imagine safely organizing a camping experience with common areas and food.
>> There may be a virtual Dick Collins Firetrails. I haven’t exactly figured this out but am mulling it over.
>> There may be some additional group runs, camps, virtual things. And of course, there’s Epiphany in January. I’ll be mulling this stuff over too with the careful guidance of the Scena Ambassadors who always look sideways at my coming and going.
Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll be filling in some of the blanks in the coming weeks. I also welcome your thoughts and think you can comments on this blog.
Hope to see you all soon,
Here are the questions that appear below with my answer, in case you can’t read them.
Any chance that Ancient Redwood Running Festival may be coming back post-2021? It’s an experience that I felt giddy to find last year, and there’s nothing else like it in this area! I was looking forward to making an annual habit of it! I understand the issues at hand here, but also I’m hoping that camping and eating together will be able to happen again one day in our future.
You know, never say never. I think Ancient Redwood is a truly special thing and a high-point of my year personally. I wouldn’t rule out that the sky clears and we do 2020 even. But from where we sit now, the event organizing world is pretty opaque so this seemed like the best way to think about it.