Over the last eighteen months, as we have all been hoping and waiting for a return for normalcy, adventure racing has served as an anchor for so many of us. With the dissemination of vaccines and the encouraging numbers we’ve all experienced since the spring, we at USARA have been looking to the 2021 National Championship as an opportunity to bring together our community and celebrate our ability to do the thing that we all love, with the people we love doing it with.
We are still eagerly anticipating this year’s nationals in Cable, Wisconsin, but in light of the surge of the Delta variant in the US and the rapid return to more stringent regulations, we write now to share with you our plans to host a safe event and to mitigate the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19 for the entire AR community: racers, volunteers, families, and the communities we’ll be visiting in our travels and on the course.
First, we are committed to following local, state, and federal guidelines. As we all remember from earlier stages of the pandemic, the landscape of these regulations, recommendations, and healthcare realities can change very rapidly, and we anticipate that the situation will look different in September than it does today. At this point, erring toward the likelihood of additional restrictions in six weeks rather than fewer, we are currently considering the following:
1. General Safety: We are returning to and reexamining the “COVID Best Practices” that we developed earlier in the pandemic.
2. Masking: Yesterday, the CDC recommended a return to indoor masking in regions of the country where COVID rates are above a certain threshold. Bayfield County, Wisconsin (where Cable is located) is in one of those areas, as are approximately two-thirds of the counties in the United States. Because we have racers traveling to Cable from across the country, including from areas that the CDC has deemed “surging,” we anticipate requiring CDC-compliant masks for all indoor race-related activities, for all volunteers, participants, and their families. As you will see on the gear list, now published on the nationals website, masks will be required gear for all racers.
3. Registration: Weather permitting, we will conduct as much of the race-related logistics as possible outside.
4. Checkpoints: We will be using e-punches for the event, which reduce direct physical contact between teams.
5. Post-race: We are currently exploring a variety of alternatives to our traditional post-race banquet. As much as we would love to bring everyone together for an extended celebration, indoor dining for three hundred people is not possible with the new, and likely evolving, guidelines. If the numbers start trending in a positive direction and we can all gather inside, we see that as a good problem to have, and we will respond accordingly. At this point, however, we are considering the following options:
6. Vaccines. Some racers have already asked about vaccination mandates, either for the race or the post-race banquet. At this point, we do not plan to enforce such a policy, because we want the event to be as inclusive as possible. However, it is plausible that new local, state, or federal guidelines may require us to do so by September.
7.Refunds. Racers have already shared with us that some employers are considering new travel restrictions. In the event that you are not able to come to nationals for COVID-related reasons, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you on accommodations.
As always, please take care of yourselves. Our priority, first and foremost, is our community’s health and the health and well-being of our friends and families. The race is secondary to that. That said, we are still incredible excited to see you all in Cable this fall, and we hope everyone will do everything possible to stay heathy and safe between now and then so that we can come together and enjoy what is shaping up to be an outstanding course. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.
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