So Your Race Got Cancelled — Now What?
Updated: Sep 27
If you have a spring race on your calendar, there’s a distinct possibility that it has already been cancelled, or will be cancelled soon. The fact is, in order to keep the strain off our healthcare system, and enable the mortality rate to stay low, we need to slow the spread of the disease. Social distancing is one of the best ways to do that. That means no large crowds and gatherings, and attempting to stay 6ft away from other people.
So, your goal race got cancelled — now what?
First, it’s important to remember: fitness is not about a race.
The most consistent athletes realize that you don’t build fitness for a race, you race to showcase and celebrate the fitness you’ve gained. That fitness doesn’t go away if the goal disappears. Not only that, but fitness builds on itself with consistent training, regardless of when or if you race.
You can celebrate your fitness in other ways! Here are some ideas.
I have to admit, this isn’t really my thing, but if it’s your thing, that’s great! Some races have chosen to implement a ‘virtual race,’ where you upload a GPX file of you doing the distance, and then mail you the medal. If that sounds like fun, do it! You could also find another, unrelated virtual race.
Find Another Race
The races most likely to get cancelled, especially ahead of time, are big-city events with a large amount of runners, volunteers, spectators, etc. There’s a possibility that smaller events in more rural areas may proceed as planned, or with modifications (such as canceling a race expo.) This may change based on how the virus progresses, but it’s something to keep in mind. There are a ton of amazing races out there, and they’re not all in the big cities. Some of the best races I’ve ever run had less than 500 runners in the field. If the replacement race is within a week or two of your planned race, it’s pretty easy to adjust for. If you have a longer period, it can be good add in a few more key weeks of training.
This one is fun! Imagine yourself a race director — what’s a really neat route you could dream up? Could you come up with a neat point-to-point route, and get dropped off? What about a circumnavigation of your town/city? The sky’s the limit! Put yourself in an RD’s shoes, and think about what makes for a good course. You can even invite a few (healthy) friends and run together or even race each other. (Follow CDC and Dept. of Health recommendations if they exist in your area though.)
Spring is upon us in many areas of the country, which means trails will hopefully be clearing and drying up. What’s a cool adventure run you’ve always wanted to try? It could be an established route, like an FKT route, or something you dream up on your own. Maybe you dabble in biking or kayaking, and you want to make an epic duathlon/triathlon combining sports! There are countless possibilities, and planning these types of things is one of my favorite activities, even if I don’t end up doing them!
There’s always the possibility that you want to keep training. You can use this additional time to continue to build your fitness, level up in distance or unlock some additional speed.
Remember, your fitness is not related to a time on a clock at an official race. You can celebrate it any time with just a little planning and sense of adventure. I’ve also added a post about training in the age of social isolation.
Have questions about finding an alternative, planning an adventure, or just training in general? Send me a note on the Coaching page!
You can read other advice on training, injury, gear, etc. on the Training Tips page.