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Gotta’ Run: Local races now pending the virus

By the end of May, we are usually winding down a successful series of spring races and other events. Spring 2020 may end up with no races, but we are doing our best to still have at least one of them. The 19th Annual Bare Bones 5K is one of Salisbury’s oldest races and we’re working with Salisbury city officials to find a way to meet the upcoming requirements amid Phase 2, now projected hopefully to begin on May 23.

The city can’t OK the permit until North Carolina is actually in Phase 2. The original race date of May 23 won’t work due to the current uncertainly of when Phase 2 will begin, but we hope that one of the next few Saturdays will work. Salisbury was designated a national Runner Friendly Community due to a lot of criteria involving cooperation with city government. We are certainly getting that cooperation again and we will keep everyone posted as the situation develops.

Bare Bones is an interesting race that started 19 years ago when the title sponsor dropped out just two days before the race while suggesting that the event be canceled. With less ways to spread the word of a cancellation than are available now, the Salisbury Rowan Runners decided to take it on, treat the whole event as a thank you to the running community and keep the registration prices very reasonable. Over the years, we’ve recycled trophies and even unused T-shirts, but the 2020 event will have great awards and a slightly different logo on a brand new commemorative T-shirt. Proceeds go to Relay for Life and Rowan Helping Ministries.

Two other races scheduled for June have new updates. The very popular Main Street Challenge 5K, originally planned for Friday evening, June 5, in China Grove, has been postponed until Friday evening, Aug. 21. The Shiloh Missions 5K, held as part of the Faith Fourth of July is still scheduled for June 27. I spoke with race director Luann Fesperman on Thursday and she assured me that they have every intention to have the race on that date.

Over the last two weeks, I have exchanged various communications with the Road Runners Club of America about a return to racing amid the coronavirus. RRCA is the parent organization of more than 1,200 running clubs nationwide. They have suggested certain parts of the process that could be changed or altered to make social distancing work over 3.1 miles. While road racing is not a contact sport, the first races back will likely be required to follow at least certain guidelines for the safety of the volunteers and participants. During my competitive racing period of more than 800 running events over various distances, only once did I have more than a light brush of physical contact with a runner. A tight turn and a couple of bumps amid the start and then it was over. No other part of a race is as congested as the start.

Some of the suggestions for more social distancing that are likely to be used in the early return to racing include a larger starting area and the possibility of multiple starts. We can do these to meet the approved number for a gathering.

The second biggest gathering is usually the awards ceremony following the race. If the number likely to attend is above the gathering limit, we’ll hand each finisher a bag with refreshments and give them directions on how they can pick up any earned awards. Likely in that case, winners will need to visit Ralph Baker Shoes beginning on the following Monday.

Finally, Bare Bones has a virtual 5K choice. Virtual means that the runner doesn’t run the actual race but can complete the 3.1-mile distance at any time of their choosing within a week of the official race day. Those participants get a reduced price and a shirt but aren’t eligible for awards.

You’ve read the latest and you can find more as it develops at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org . Or you can call 704-310-6741. It seems that runners are ready to compete again, and interest is high so far in the three upcoming races. Hope to see you there.

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