* The following was emailed to all registered 2020 Superior Fall Trail Race runners and volunteers on Thursday May 7, 2020.
I hope that this email finds you and your family healthy and safe during these extraordinary times. In all honesty, these have been very stressful times for Cheri and I. We have been worried about our races, our business and our future. More importantly than that, we have been worried about our at risk parents and our fellow citizens. I am sure that you all are dealing with your own unique set of circumstances and worries, and we are thinking of you. We will get through this, and maybe we will even be better for it – strength through adversity.
The reason for my email today is to give you an update regarding the Superior Fall Trail Race in light of COVID-19. I will start by saying that above all, our primary concern and the determining factor behind the decisions we make will be runner / volunteer and community safety and health.
I know that many of you have been to the Superior Fall Trail Race website and have seen our more comprehensive updates that primarily focused on two of our early season races that we have already had to cancel, the Zumbro Endurance Run and the Superior Spring Trail Race – https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/covid-19-press-release-4-9-20/ – I cannot tell you how hard it was to have to cancel these races. That said, we have been blown away by the outpouring of support from so many individuals following the cancellation of these races – I know that we are not alone, our community is strong, we are all in this together and we will get through this.
At this time the Superior Fall Trail Race is still scheduled and we are continuing to monitor the situation. The Minnesota “Stay at Home” order is currently in effect through May 18 (although this could be extended). Even though September is a ways off, the information I have been reading, watching and listening to indicates that non-essential “group and mass gatherings” will be the very last thing to come back, that there is significant potential for second and third waves of the virus, and that it will be quite some time until there is a vaccine. We are just over four months out from the race, so we believe it is worth taking a wait and see approach as things unfold over the coming months. As much time and effort as it takes to host a race, it takes a significant amount of communication and coordination to cancel one – so we will continue to prepare to sanely and systematically carry out either decision. During this time we will monitor the situation generally, while keeping in touch with our many permitting agencies, the communities where the race is held, and other local authorities.
Regarding travel: While I realize that participants coming from out of state would normally start making travel plans in the coming months, I strongly encourage anyone planning to fly to Minnesota to not book anything at this time. If you are already booked I would advise reviewing the specific information provided by your airline – several airlines have been offering more flexibility / leniency in regards to cancellations and rescheduling. Participants should also familiarize themselves with the cancellation policies of rental cars and lodging / accommodations if either apply.
Regarding training: Obviously 26.2, 50 or 100 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail is a major undertaking and the training required is intensive. I know that at some point you will be looking to ramp up your training more, or if the race is to be canceled, may be inclined to take things down a notch. While I wish I could provide more clarity, each person is just going to have to make the best decisions they can for themselves and finesse it the best that they can. I know that some people are training more than ever because it is a stress relief for them and will do so regardless of races happening this year. I also know that there are others who are finding that the stress of running, on top of the stress of daily life, is just too much right now. Regardless, I implore you, do not be too hard on yourselves and at a minimum, try to get out for some fresh air and exercise a few days a week, it does not need to be anything major – I think we all need that for our mental health right now.
Regarding if you will be in a position to, or will even want to race this Fall should the race proceed: I know that there are those who have been more severely impacted by this pandemic than others. Some who have contracted the virus, others that are facing financial hardship and still others that are just generally and emotionally having a hard time coping with all of this. For those of you that do not feel like you will be in a position to race this Fall we do not want you to feel any pressure or add to your stress by having to worry about skipping this year’s race (in the event that it should proceed) and not being selected in the lottery next year. So, even if the race does go on this year, if you cannot, or choose not to race, we are guaranteeing you a spot in the 2021 race (assuming that it happens). You would still need to enter the lottery during the lottery registration period and pay the registration fee, but we will guarantee you a spot.
Obviously, on the list of our collective priorities right now, racing does not rate real high. That said, at some point, things will start to return to normal (or normal’ish), and when they do, we plan to be ready.
I will be back in touch. If in the meantime you have any questions, you can reply to this email and I will get right back to you. Until then, stay safe and be well.