What Do Races and Events Look Like Now?

As the situation changes weekly with Covid-19, race and event organizers around the state have been scratching their heads. Like many events, the Middlebury Maple Run half marathon that was scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 3, was canceled. But the Vermont Sun Half Marathon, originally slated for May 10, also in the Middlebury area, has just been postponed a month.

“We just were not sure how things were going to play out,” says Steve Hare who has been putting on the Vermont Sun Half Marathon and Vermont Sun Triathlon series on Lake Dunmore for 35 years. “We realized quickly that with the governor’s order we couldn’t do it then. The race has now been scheduled for June 14 with plenty of new safety measures.

Racers hit the water for the swim leg of the 2019 Vermont State Triathlon Championships. Photo by Pat Hendrick, courtesy Vermont Sun.

Among the precautions Hare is taking: All participants and race personnel will wear masks and practice social distancing during all pre-race and post-race activities. Participants will self-serve when picking up their timing chip and registration and goody bag pick-ups will be spaced out. The starts will be in small waves with only 10 to 20 athletes at a time. Only bottled water and packaged foods will be served. Athletes will pick up their own trophies and there will be plenty of sanitary wipes.

“We hope to use the existing Branbury State Park bathrooms and facilities,” Hare said.  For the triathlons, Hare notes that competitors generally are spaced farther apart and with more, smaller waves, distancing on the course should be easier.


Other major events have also postponed: the Vermont City Marathon, held every Memorial Day weekend, has been moved to October 25. Rasputitsa, the gravel phenomenon that has taken place every April in the Northeast Kingdom, has moved to July 25, to be held in what’s being billed as a back-to-back gravel extravaganza with The Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride (another spring mud-fest) moved to July 26, to be held in East Burke as well.

Tyler Wren’s tasty Farm to Fork events – the Farm to Fork Fondo and a new race, the Farm to Fork Fitness Run in the Champlain Islands – were both moved to Labor Day weekend.  “We are hoping that by then we’ll be in a better place,” says Wren who typically sets up long tables to serve farm-fresh fare in a gorgeous setting at Snow Farm Vineyard to riders and runners.

Riders at the 2019 Farm to Fork Fondo Champlain Islands event.

The large charity rides, however, have – for the most part – gone virtual. The Long Trail Century Ride, which has a goal of raising $300,000 for Vermont Adaptive, is going on with participants logging virtual miles. “You can ride, stationary bike, run, walk, roll, do exercise classes, horseback ride, and more. Participate anytime and anywhere…from the safety of your own home or neighborhood,” the website states. The “event” will still be held on June 20 with a day of livestream contests, hourly raffles, adaptive athlete interviews, interactive activities…and prizes.

“We just decided we really needed to shift the Point to Point, powered by VSECU to a virtual event,” says Simeon Chapin, of organizer VSECU. “The Point to Point, powered by VSECU, is all about fighting hunger in Vermont. The need is so strong. We wanted to act immediately and support Vermonters now, when they need it most. We started by sending all funds raised directly to the Vermont Foodbank each month rather than holding them until the event. With the pivot to a virtual event, we can reduce the overhead cost, slash registration fees, engage riders and runners anywhere in the world, and push all of our resources into helping our community rise to this incredible and immediate challenge to fight hunger.”

For currently registered participants, registration fees will be refunded or donated per their request and new registrations will be reduced to free or a minimal cost. Participants will receive a gift bag with event T-shirt and  can ride/run the courses on their own, or choose their own routes, all while maintaining physical distancing measures

The Prouty, which could have brought 4,000 in the past to the Upper Valley on the weekend of July 11 to ride, run, row, golf and participate in dozens of other events to raise funds for the Norris Cotton Cancer Research Center is also going virtual. There are no longer any minimum fundraising requirements and participants can log their miles any time between June 1 and July 11.

In the Northeast Kingdom, Kingdom Games’ popular Dandelion Run (usually held in May) has gone virtual with, writes “84 ‘movers’ already signed on committing 2,263 “miles of movement” between May 16 and May 24th and pledging over $3,200 for Umbrella, a local organization dedicated to promoting strong women, supported families and safe homes.

This year’s “Dandies” include people from all walks of life, all over the country, and all different sports. Many are running or walking. Some are spinning and swimming. Bill Brown of Vineyard Haven, MA is rowing 31 miles. Karina Palmarino of Magog, QC and Gary Golden of Burlington, are taking on 150 miles each, kayaking and biking their miles.

For Adam Schalit, who runs 13 races in the southern Vermont area as part of Northeast Trail Runs, the season is still in limbo. “We’ve paused all registration and acted the same guidelines so not booking new registrations, he says. However, the first of his events the Ethan Allen 24, a 24-hour track race on a 6-lane track on July 11, had international runners slated to compete. “I just don’t see how we can run this on a 6-lane track. The issue, too is that the food and aid station and the socialization are as much as the race experience.”

Schalit, whose sole income is from his event business, has written Gov. Scott asking for both guidance on how to run races safely and legal protection so that he can defer entry fees to a later event.

“But the main thing,” he says, “is we need to maybe put off races now so that we can run them in the future. Our mission as race directors is to preserve the safety of the participants and the community around us. I’d hate to host a race and then discover that Manchester or where we had it had become a new hot spot.”


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