Letter From The Editor

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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.

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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I support the wise decision on everyone’s part to hold off, and try to relax. This is after all ‘sport!’ We can all continue to stay fit, and workout. We all do what we do to be fit. Racing, is only a part of the equation. As the Editor notes, being angry with a Race Director is not the answer. Those people are looking out for everyone’s well being. Let’s all try and look at the bigger picture.
    I have been a competitive runner now over 49 years, and have yet to witness anything like we are enduring now. I recall the Summer of 1995 lining up at the ‘Bastille Day’ race in the West Loop, and it being 107 degrees heat index. I still recall tiny Beth Onines sweating up a storm like the rest of us! It was brutal! Other years, we’ve endured Polar Arctic Blasts, but this is at another level.
    Thanks again Chicago AA for caring to keep the Chicago and NW Indiana Running Community in the ‘Loop!’ We are fortunate to have the like of you and CARA and other fine running clubs locally to keep us going. Let’s all try and remain calm. Stay fit and safe. In the words of Chicago Fan Favorite Mike Ditka, “this too shall pass!”

  2. David Casillas, of course, I remember 1995, you used to work in a running store where I bought my short and my shirt to run my first marathon. In fact, you gave me the best pair of socks I ever had. I also participated in the Bastille Day race as well as in the defunct Chicago Distance Classic and, as you said, the high temperatures were brutal. Many people died in Chicago as we trained by the Lake Front. Great memories, David, but not always pleasant. Great to read your comment. I’m glad you are still involved in the running community. My wife and I now live in Pine Bush, New York. I’m also glad the Chicago Athlete serves as the runner’s link. Be safe.

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