It has been a tough week for everyone in the world, including Chicagoans, as we have watched our city cancel nearly every event that is near and dear to our heart. We have seen all of our sports teams put on hold, staple races postponed, annual parades cancelled, and are unsure about what the next day will bring. There are countless press conferences, emails from EVERY retailer, speeches, and newspaper articles.
Here at Chicago Athlete, our focus has been taken from fun race recaps and gear review to race cancellations and keeping our athletes and their families safe.
As we have received word of each race cancellation, we want our readers to know that these decisions are not made lightly. Yesterday, the Governor made clear that mass gatherings are either banned or strongly prohibited. This takes the decision entirely out of the race directors’ hands.
Many race directors are volunteers and nearly every organized event has a whole boatload of volunteers assisting. These individuals put their races on for us, the athletes.
I was as saddened as everyone to learn of the Cary March Madness Half Marathon cancellation. This has been my spring start of racing for years. However, given the Governor’s declaration, the race director had no choice but to cancel. I am even more saddened to learn that he has received numerous complaint emails and negative feedback.
Although some races are able to offer a full refund, like the Shamrock Shuffle, the vast majority of race are not. The money has already been spent to secure permits, purchase swag, and acquire supplies for the race, like water and metals. None of this is refundable. Not to mention that many funds have a charitable aspect that depends on the runners’ entry fees to fund it.
We can anticipate many more events getting canceled through May 1. This is going to have many effects, not the least of which being that our summer and fall race schedules will be jam packed. Things are changing by the hour and we need to be able to roll with it.
Please athletes, do not lash out at race directors that are forced to cancel their events. This is not their fault, just as it is not yours. This coronavirus pandemic is leaving a lasting mark on the start of 2020 racing and life.
One thing that Chicagoans have on our side is our toughness. We have made it through countless frigid winters, often running along the LFT. We have endured public transportation and crowded rush-hour traffic. We have walked to work through the loop, dodging the “ice is falling from buildings” signs. We are tough.
We have gotten through so much and will get through this together. Not only can we find solidarity by being Chicagoland residents, but also by being runners. We stick together, even at mile 22 when your legs are burning, you know there is always a runner there to get you to the finish.
Let’s be smart through this but also be an aid station to those that need us. Keep running. Keep biking. Use your speed training intervals to keep that 6-foot social distance from fellow runners. Enjoy the outdoors as we begin to warm up. Skip the gym and hit the trail. Free your mind from the relentless COVID-19 updates for a bit. But most of all, be nice. Realize that this is a system shock to the entire world. A race cancellation is just a small ripple in this big wave. And just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other, at whatever pace you want.