the return to in-person racing

On Monday, I shared the big news! I registered for my first 5K in almost a year!

Obviously, part of my time off had a lot to do with the fact that I had broken bones and was in recovery from surgery. The other part was all about COVID-19 canceling just about everything. Boo.

I’ll issue a disclaimer that not every region is offering in-person options right now, but it seems like smaller, local races are permitted to happen. It’s been going on for a month or two in Northeast Florida, and I finally felt it was time to give it a try.

Choose a race that makes you comfortable.

Not all races are created equal, and that’s ok. Right now, there is something for everyone, even if it means staying virtual, so you can be selective. Check out everything, from race policies to swag details, and go with the event that feels right for you.

I was all set to register for a really cool, brand-new 5K, but it was a point-to-point race, with a shuttle ride back to the start. While I was ok running in a group of people outside, I wasn’t as comfortable with being on a bus afterwards, so I found something more palatable. I’ll be at the Cotttonmouth Quarter Marathon & 5K on October 31!

Don’t rush to register TOO quickly.

Usually, I am all about jumping on registration as soon as it opens, but these are strange times. Sure, it’s great to take advantage of early-bird pricing or swag with limited availability, but right now, things fluctuate very quickly. Register too soon and you run the risk of things changing (like being moved to a virtual event with no refund, for example).

The downside is that many events have limited the number of participants, so just keep that in mind before taking too long to commit.

Familiarize yourself with updated policies.

Even if you registered (or plan to register) for a race you’ve run 20 times, things have probably changed. Look for details about day-of registration, packet pickup, awards, and cancellations. Race directors seem to be very clear about how they are handling everything from when and where to pick up your bib, to the structure of the actual race. There’s no reason not to be prepared, and if you’re not on board with the policies, then it might be best to find another event that’s a better fit.

return to racing

Respect the rules.

Look. I get it. Nobody WANTS to wear a mask at the start and finish lines, or carry it with them when running. Staggered starts totally take something away from the thrill of a race, especially when you’re trying to get on that podium. However, right now, these are the rules, and if you are going to participate in the event, then you need to play along. Race directors, staff, and volunteers have struggled through this past year, just like the rest of us. The least we can do is show our appreciation for them and their dedication to getting things back to normal by not making their jobs any harder.

return to racing

Have fun!

Most importantly, have fun! The return to in-person racing is a great time, and there’s no reason not to enjoy it! Stay safe, run hard, and bask in every second of it! It’s only going to get better.

Are you back to in-person racing?

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14 Responses to the return to in-person racing

  1. Catrina says:

    Great tips, Jenn!
    Unfortunately, there are no in-person races near my town yet. In fact, we seem to be further away from it than ever.
    But I think for 2021, once things have calmed down, we might be seeing some. If a race is well organized, it can be quite safe!

  2. This is exciting! We have very few in-person races around here. I’ve looked around just to see and there’s nothing that’s close by, and it seems like alot of work to drive an hour for a short race. I think at this point I just want to see how things go and hope to be able to do an in-person race next spring.

  3. Wendy says:

    I did run a live in-person half marathon a few weeks ago. It was really well organized and for the most part, I felt really safe. My only complaint were the runners who were spitting–I’m grateful that I didn’t see anyone around me doing that, but I saw it on the ground. I think the most important thing here is that runners need to follow the rules. Good luck, Jenn!

  4. We don’t have in person races here yet and I am not sure we will for a while. Very excited that you will have the chance to run one soon. Knowing the rules and following them is going to be key!

  5. I got to do my first in person race last week and it was just SO NICE to be back. The race was very clear about the safety rules, and they did a really nice Facebook tribute to the winners afterwards since there was no in-person recognition. The only area that I wasn’t 100% comfortable with was the portapotty, just because it’s an enclosed space with no air circulation, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that 100% of race participants are going to be in there.
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  6. How exciting that you’ll be back on the starting line! We are restricted from have races in Philly until at least February, but I’ve seen a lot of trail races popping up in the burbs. I don’t think I’ll feel comfortable for a while, but I’m always curious to see how these races are being handled. Looking forward to hearing how it goes!

  7. so excited for you.

    I’m all about racing and I have a real one on Nov 15.

    There have a been a few around here and they have thought about everything and I feel that I will be safe.

  8. There are a few in-person races popping up in my area, but I’m not really in rally-back condition yet, not even for a 5K (unless it was mostly walking). A couple intriguing ones are trails races, but I’m not too keen on running on rough terrain for awhile. After all, that’s what got me my stress fracture LOL I’m currently brainstorming all the details to be assured our local turkey trot can take place…

  9. Kim G says:

    These are really great tips! We don’t have any in-person races in my area yet, but I think your tip about getting familiar with the updated policies is super important!

  10. There have been a few live races here. For me, personally, I can (probably) wait until things are more normal. I realize that will probably be a long time, but I’m a patient person.

    I can totally understand why you want to tackle a 5k IRL! I hope you have a great time. Good tips!

  11. It’s so exciting even to think about racing again! I am registered for a marathon next February, but who knows how it’s going to go? I don’t know if there is any racing here in California. We have really strict rules about the size of gatherings here.

    • runswithpugs says:

      Fingers crossed that it’s a go! We were talking about our huge 15K in March. Smaller race are happening, but would this international event get the permits? I guess we will have to wait and see.

  12. Liz Dexter says:

    Great post. We have the odd mainly trail race opening up here but I’m in no rush to get to them, esp as I’d have to go in someone else’s car (not allowed for us in my city at the moment) or get public transport. I’m glad people are getting more options, though.

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