A Letter to Race Directors During COVID

I want to take a moment to talk directly to race directors right now. I imagine you are all freaking out a bit right now. Even though I might bring up some of the ways not having your race available does sort of suck for us runners you’re doing the right thing and we get it’s not your fault. I’m just making the point that we didn’t realize how much we appreciated you until now! Full disclosure I had this on my list of posts for a while and I moved it into the not this year pile for obvious reasons. But then I got to thinking maybe this is exactly the right time to talk to the race directors. I’m pretty sure you’ll see a ‘normal times’ post about this at some point too but for now I think these organizational heroes might need a shout out so here goes.

We had no idea how much we value what you do

As soon as COVID hit we all knew that there was very little chance we’d be racing this year. For lots of us that did mean putting off dreams like doing our first marathon, qualifying for Boston or tackling an iron man. I know of one runner that was going to do his first tri, a couple of others planning their first half and I’m sure most of us had #goals this year. First let me put it out there that I think we handled this pretty well as a group. Lots of groups got all butt hurt at one point and acted poorly but hats off to runners, I don’t think we did that.

We’ve always appreciated you don’t get me wrong. What you do is the icing on the cake of a long training season. But it wasn’t until this year that we fully ‘got’ all of that. Lots of us had very different years. Some of us struggled with motivation, others pushing our limits and still others have just found that there is less meaning in running in general these days. All of that still sounds really simple still but having your race in our schedule turned out to be a really big deal even if we didn’t know it. When everything got shut down at first we all thought “okay no racing but that doesn’t really change anything does it!” Well it turns out it changed everything at least for some of us. It also doesn’t matter if your race is a super serious triathlon or a fun run 5k not having anything this year made us all realize how important what you do is. It’s also high time we told you that.

Superstar Race director of Sole Sisters, Stacey Chestnutt. Go register for her virtual Run before it’s too late!

We’re coming back

The thing I imagine you worry about the most is if we are coming back or we will forget about you. Well since we haven’t been racing all we’ve been doing is dreaming about is racing. Which is to say we’re coming back! However I urge you to give us some time. One race is happening here this year but others couldn’t get approval from public health. Since it’s in a university town close to the start of the school year so I’m skipping it for now. But I’ll be back to all of the runs when the time is right. I also know most of the other runners out there feel the same way. So don’t give up yet if you don’t want to and we’ll be happy to come back. We all hope its sooner rather than later too!

Virtual runs are the only way we know how to support you right now

I had the opportunity to get a refund for all the races I had signed up for this year. Truth be told the idea of a virtual option doesn’t really excite me at all but I decided to let them all ride as virtual races because what else can I do to support race directors this year? I wonder if everyone asked for a refund for the big local race if that would bankrupt the operation? For people who hold ‘private’ races it kinda felt like asking for a refund when everything happened was taking money out of their pockets. So we need to ask you if there is something else that we could be doing? What is that? Would it be helpful if we registered for next year’s virtual run now? What about buying some merchandise if we can? Seriously if there is something we could be doing to make your life better or easier right now so you can bring us a great day next year let us know!

It turns out you are what makes our summer great

Every runner I know isn’t running as much as they usually do because there are no races at the moment. If you’re a non-motivated runner take heart you’re not alone! You might have suspected for a long time that your race was motivation a lot of people to hit the pavement and stay healthy but you have no idea how true that is! Truthfully neither did we. So lots of runners aren’t running right now but that’s not your fault. 

It turns out though that motivation to stay constant in our training was a great big part of what made out late springs, summers and early falls great. I know that since I haven’t been running this season as much I feel like my summer was just a little less great and I want you to know that. It’s not just because we’re not doing something we love as much it goes so much deeper than that. We don’t have your event to look forward to so that leaves a hole. That also means we feel like we’re accomplishing a little less this summer. We’re also not taking that time for ourselves that our training usually provides. This makes us value what you do for us and our summer’s especially so much more.

Now that we’ve all been through a season without races at all how did that change your running? What role do you now realize races were playing in your life? What would you want to say to your favorite race’s director if you had the chance? Leave it in the comments below!

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