Running clubs have been working overtime to keep members engaged and active during the last 9 months. With no races to train for, club directors have had to get creative with virtual races, challenges, and social events. We are incredibly thankful for the comradery these local groups have fostered among our regional athletes during this difficult time. Below are a few highlights from activities running groups have launched to keep people moving.
Folks are joining online virtual events, streak challenges or posting about future events they hope to participate in. A socially distanced “windburn” 8 hour timed run is planned at Pate Forrest Preserve in Bartlett. Many ultras in other parts of the country are planning to proceed this spring and folks are looking forward to seeing each other there. Planning is also underway for a beer mile, Krispy Kreme challenge and re-taste of Chicago food eating marathon challenge.
Submitted by: Mandi Florip
We have had success bringing back programs and some events within the Restore IL Guidelines since reaching Phase 4 of that plan. Our programs and events provide camaraderie and community to our runners, and we’ve been committed to doing everything we can to keep our everyone engaged in a safe way.
Things we’ve hosted since resuming in-person programming have included:
Summer Marathon Training Program www.cararuns.org/summermarathon
Summer Half-Marathon Training Program www.cararuns.org/summerhalfmarathon
‘Go Run (15 events) www.gorunchicago.org
ChiTown Miles (track meet with 150 total participants) www.cararuns.org/chitownmiles
Autumn Trail Chase 5K (trail race with 300 total participants) www.cararuns.org/autumntrailchase
Winter Marathon Training Program www.cararuns.org/wintermarathon
Winter Half-Marathon Training Program www.cararuns.org/winterhalfmarathon
For gathering capacity, we have followed the Restore IL Guideline for outdoor athletic events which have a capacity of 50 persons. However, multiple groups of 50 are permitted so long as those groups are separated by at least 30 feet and do not interact. We’ve done this at training groups by separating into smaller pace groups. At events, we’ve done this by creating roped-off corrals for separate groups and start waves. At events, participants have to report to their area upon arrival and report back to it after finishing until they go home.
For general COVID safety, our guidelines have been:
• Do not participate if you are feeling sick or ill, and or have a fever, or if you have been in contact with someone unrecovered from COVID-19.
• Persons from high-risk groups for COVID-19 complications should consult their physician before participating.
• Do not engage in traditional forms of physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, partner stretching, etc.).
• Do not engage in close group pictures/selfies.
• Do not spit or blow nose while running in the group. Must be away from others, and at least six feet away from others.
• Do not share personal items, such as hydration, energy gels, towels, etc.
• Participants must wear a mask or face covering while gathering pre- or post-run, and anytime they are within six feet of others. Runners may remove their face cover while running when they can maintain social distance.
• Participants are expected to self carry personal hydration (bottles/packs), and to use hydration stations for refill only.
• Participants may be required to exit the group temporarily or permanently should their actions not meet expectations and or they are creating risk for themselves or others.We also have adapted our hydration station plans, implementing a low contact cooler spout called the UltraSpout, not offering pre-poured cups, and redesigning our station layouts to support social distancing.
The Road Runners Club of America adopted CARA’s return to group running plans as the national framework for the RRCA’s 1,500 member clubs around the nation.
We’ve provided detailed participant expectations for all of our activities. Additionally, all of our registrations include the requirement to agree to follow safety guidelines.
Submitted by: Erika Ostrander
In the interest of safety we have suspended organized in-person group runs since last March. We have tried to keep engagement going and motivation with our members by offering a Speedwork Bingo this past summer.
Additionally, we offered a members-only of our virtual event (Run of the Dead Elimination Run) at no charge to our members with swag rewards for those providing evidence of having completed the event virtually.
We have worked to keep some level of engagement through our group page but have definitely taking a more conservative approach than other area clubs by continuing to suspend in-person activities.
It’s been difficult as there is certainly a desire to return to normal, but we have decided to take safety as the more important action.
Submitted by: Jacqui Giuliano