Novel coronavirus era racing, 2020
Logan's Top of Utah Marathon start, 2020
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on races throughout the US. Many have been canceled, or postponed to next year. My running season has ended for the year. Each race I competed in had a unique way to go forward during a pandemic. Here is a summary of my running adventures.
Salt Lake Half Marathon, May, 2020
We had signed up for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon last year, and like many races throughout the country, it was canceled in March:
It is with great sadness that we must announce that the University of Utah Health Salt Lake City Marathon presented by Bank of America and all of its related events for 2020 have been postponed due to imminent mass-gathering restrictions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The event will be postponed until 2021.
However, registrants were given the opportunity to run a "virtual" race. If you sent in a copy of your run results prior to May 18, you'd receive the race tee shirt and your medal.
I wasn't going to do this, but, on May 17, I ran my local hill runs and finished a 13.3 mile run in 2:26, slow, but if I wanted a faster time, I would have skipped the climbs.
16 Crossings Trail Run, June, 2020
My first real race of the year was a fun one that always has some unpredictable twists. Sixteen Crossings Trail Run gets its name from the 16 times you cross Birch Creek along the 11.5 mile out and back route. Some years, the creek isn't more than a couple of inches deep. Once, a raging torrent caused the organizers to reroute runners to bridges. Regardless, the water is all snowmelt, and cold. So you run for a long period with cold, wet feet.
Covid-19 precautions included being given a rolling start time. You got a 30 minute window, and could start running as soon as you arrived. You were asked to wear a mask and socially distance at the start, and were asked about Covid-19 symptoms before being allowed in the starting gate. There were no medals at the end of the race to minimize person-to-person contacts. Run and done!
One of the 16 crossings over Birch Creek.
You were asked questions about travel and Covid-19 symptoms before the start.
Neighbor Jana running up the valley as I was running down!
Ironwood Relay, June, 2020
I've run in 10+ Ragnar races (team relays of 180-200 miles) over the years. The original race starts in Logan (the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay). Like other races, it was canceled. But Ragnar enthusiasts Chuck Wood, Jana, and I developed a Ragnar-esque alternative for that original date, with 36 legs of 3.5-10 miles for each leg and 12 runners. We called it the Ironwood Relay.
I think I ran a 5 mile leg at around 7 PM, then a 7 miler at 4:30 AM, and finished with a 3.5 mile run around noon (Caroline ran that last leg with me).
I ran this race with Caroline. Race organizer Gary Saxon limited the number of runners, and set up the running bibs and swag on a picnic table so runners could pick them up as they arrived.
Caroline receiving her finisher medal from Sheldon Browning while maintaining social distancing.
Robert with Gary Saxton at the finish line.
Logan's Top of Utah Marathon, September, 2020
There's a big difference between a 10K (6.2 miles) and a full marathon (26.3 miles). I spent the month before this race in DC, and Wesley was my training partner. We ran on the roads and trails of Rock Creek Park, a national park in the midst of a very urban area. I was cognizant that I was training at sea level, and we tried to run the small hills whenever possible. The humidity was brutal, but the company was fabulous (and Wesley ran his marathon the day after mine).
I returned to Logan 5 days before the marathon (elevation 4534 feet asl), and hoped my body could adjust in that time. One of the reasons this marathon wasn't canceled, unlike many around the country, was because A) it was smaller (capped at 200 runners), and B) no buses were required to transport runners to a start line. For the Logan Marathon, it's an out and back race, with the race starting right downtown and finishing there as well.
At the start, groups of 3 spaced runners were started every 5-10 seconds. You may notice my green parka. For about 20 of the miles, there was a light rain... wet shoes and socks. Luckily, I didn't suffer any blisters.
The rest of the day I had stiff legs (particularly my calves), but on Monday, Caroline and I were cycling and playing tennis.
And maybe, just maybe... there's one more marathon in me.
Logan's Top of Utah First Dam Scary Run 10K, October, 2020
This last race was interesting. After a year of races being canceled or reorganized, the TOU folk put on their annual First Dam Scary Run on Halloween. Now, this is when Covid-19 cases are spiking throughout the US, and Utah. In fact, the day before this race, the governor of Utah issued a statement that "By public health order, masks are required in high transmission areas. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer." I sent a note to the organizers questioning precautions, and got back a short note stating that their event had been approved by the Bear River Health Department (it hadn't... they don't approve any events).
Three of us estimated the percentage of people not wearing masks. The average of these estimates was 21%.