This week, new guidelines were released on staging running events in the UK by United Kingdom Athletics and Run Britain. The new rules include social distancing restrictions before, during and after the race.
As well as restrictions at the start and end of the race, with the removal of race staples such as bag drops and the handing out of medals to prevent runners from congregating, on the course, race pacers will be removed from the route. Race organisers will have to reconsider narrow sections of routes, to allow runners to safely overtake one another while still social distancing.
Under the new guidelines, spectators will also be discouraged, to avoid crowds gathering along the course. The guidelines state, ‘Organisers should develop comprehensive communication plans to deter the number of spectators and supporters from attending the event, emphasising alternatives to follow the event where provided.’
While many larger race organisers have cancelled or postponed autumn races, others are still planning on going ahead. At the Hamburg marathon in September, runners will be required to wear a mask in the starting pens and keep it with them for the race, so that it can be reapplied when crossing the line. The Athens marathon also has been given the green light for November, with runners split into two waves of 5,000 and set off an hour apart.
If you had a place, would you want to take part in a ‘socially distanced’ marathon?
The question remains, would you want to take part in a race with a very different atmosphere to that you might be used to. We asked our Runner’s World readers and 58% said if they had a place, they would still run. The other 42% said they’d rather defer and wait till racing felt more ‘normal’.
One runner wrote, ‘I have a place at London and I won’t be doing it if it does take place (doubtful). I’d just rather wait and have the full experience, crowds etc.’ Another said, ‘[organisers] just need to wait till is completely safe again I think. Even with those possible guidelines I would not be comfortable.’
Others said they would be glad to return to smaller scale races, or trail races where the field is smaller and social distancing would be less of an issue.
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