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Road Races in an Era of Coronavirus March 18, 2020

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
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I’ve run two races so far this year – the 5K as a part of the Key West Half Marathon in January, and the Gateway to Space on March 1 – the Space Shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral.  I’m not sure what races are continuing right now (the Boston Marathon, a staple of the third week of April, has moved to September), although I am hoping that a couple of races this spring and summer will continue in coastal North Carolina, where much of my family lives.

One of my better races, several years ago, was the 10K that was a part of the Bilbao Night Marathon.  It shouldn’t have been a good race for me, because I have a moderate case of agoraphobia, or fear of enclosed or crowded places.  Prior to the start, the race organizers packed over twenty thousand people in chutes that should have held half of that number at most.

I wasn’t thinking of illness at that time, but rather the prospect that terrorists could have left undetected satchel charges directly outside of the chutes, in several adjacent outdoor restaurants.  Today the crowding would be an unacceptable health issue.

Smaller races don’t face quite that prospect of crowding.  You never had to put yourself in the crowd at Key West until the race started, and there was so much room on the runway at Gateway to Space that crowding wasn’t necessary.  I would still like to have to stand down for a few minutes so that a Space Shuttle can land, but we as a nation are unfortunately not in that position right now.

Many people run as a social activity.  Regrettably, right now we need to rethink that.  I am more of a loner in this regard, and run because I like the sense of accomplishment.  Some old fat guy placed several times in his age group.  Smaller races, such as the ones I prefer to participate in, tend to have less crowding, and more community.

And these are the races that need our help right now.  I’m going to name a couple of the ones from North Carolina – Oak Island Lighthouse Run, Battle for Independence (on Independence Blvd, no less), Summer Sizzler (which features the alligator).  But there are races in your neighborhood too that can use the support.  And if you’re not a runner, go ahead and walk them.  Let’s stay healthy.

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