How safe are the returns from running events with mass participation?


How safe do you feel at a race start line at the moment?

I’ve felt comfortable at all of the local events I’ve driven and reported on since the restrictions were relaxed and the local clubs managed to run races responsibly.

Masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, rolling starts – they have become the norm, at least locally.

But there is a big difference between running a few hundred and running tens of thousands of others.

Mass participation sports organizers issued a statement earlier this week celebrating the return of outdoor mass participation events as part of government moves to transition to step four starting July 19.

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As it stands, events like the London Marathon, parkrun, Brighton Marathon, Manchester Marathon, London Landmarks Half Marathon (there are too many to mention) can all take place.

MORE: Do you love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

Now everyone who has drawn attention to the pandemic and how to deal with the restrictions knows how changeable this whole situation is. For example, more than 40,000 cases of coronavirus were reported on Tuesday, and with just over half the population fully vaccinated, it feels like it’s a bit early to cycle on “Freedom Day”.

While the introduction of the vaccine has luckily changed our lives over the past 18 months, it is also clear that we are still a long way from the woods.

I accept that living with Covid is something that we have gotten used to. We even got used to driving it over the past few months as it hosted several excellent local events.

Will it be safe for about 50,000 runners to congregate by the end of the month? It’s quite a shift in mindset since we’ve been told to avoid crowded situations or close contact for so long. I’m just getting used to not re-judging people for hugging …

Many people will still understandably feel uncomfortable with the prospect of races, even if all the data suggests that transmission of the virus in an outside environment is unlikely. Last month’s Norwich Half Marathon was 50 percent below the expected field and while some people are dying to race, others are understandably not that sure.

I feel pretty torn. While I love the Norfolk racing scene, mass participation really goes the extra mile and it’s those kind of races that have kept my motivation going in the past.

As mentioned earlier, I have a seat for the Manchester Marathon and if my body allows it I want to build my mileage on it.

However, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there is still the possibility that it won’t happen … or that I’m not comfortable enough to attend. It is not just my health that I have to consider in making these decisions, like all of us.

But I’m comfortable enough to train for a race that may not take place – I’ve gotten used to it like I know a lot of others.

I love the structure of my training when a big event is on the horizon and the focus it offers. It’s a great stress reliever for me.

But there is a long time between now and October 10th if Manchester is to take place. The situation is then completely uncertain … but that is the only certainty we have.