The COVID Effect – 5/2/20

“I give honesty without regret.” – Unknown senior (from Voices of Old People by Simon & Garfunkel)

And to be honest, the COVID pandemic has created a tremendous amount of frustration for me. This has included cancellations of multiple racees and has impacted my training. I just haven’t had the focus most of the last 6 weeks to get in everything I need to. I know it could be much worse, which is why it’s just temporary frustration instead of anger or just plain giving up on the 2020 season.

While I have lost multiple events, I was fortunate to get a 2nd Indoor Tri in in March before the shutdowns occurred. I truly love doing Coach Joe’s (Experience Triathlon) events, and had hoped to do the April one as well.

As a brief summary of the Feb/March ones, the swims went OK (with March’s going better), the bikes were both solid, and the March run was much better than Feb’s. Thankfully, there are still multiple ET outdoor races for this summer to look at doing. For those of you making schedule readjustments, I would strongly recommend looking at these as options:

6/14 – ET Batavia
7/12 – ET Lake Zurich
8/2 – ET Naperville
9/5 – ET Pleasant Prairie

Once the shut downs had occurred, I expected to see RDs do the right things. Whether this meant cancellations with refunds, rescheduling to the fall or deferring to 2021. And for the overwhelming majority, that’s what has occurred.

As just one example, the Shamrock Shuffle did full refunds in addition to still sending out the swag. Yes, that has and will cost them a lot of money to do. But IMO they’ll make it up in 2021 and beyond. Simply because anyone looking at it from the outside should say ‘that’s a RO that I want to give my money to’ , along with ‘I had X on my 2021 schedule for that same weekend, but I’ll look at doing the Shamrock Shuffle’. If it wasn’t already a permanent fixture on my race schedule, their actions this year would make it so.

So when the order was extended to May 31st, I expected something similar from my May RDs/ROs. One of them (Race Director X (‘RDX’) / Race Organizer X (‘ROX’)) made a 4th decision — turning a physical race into a virtual one without any of the other options mentioned before. I am using RDX/ROX going forward from here, and would ask those who know the real name NOT to Dox them. Frustrating, but that was the choice they made.

Their March e-mail mentioned ‘you will have everything by race day’. So in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I thought ‘Okay, we’ll make the best of it… and simulate things with the race items.’ A few days prior to the event, I still hadn’t received the items, so I reached out. The response that I received was ‘we’ll send things soon… COVID has impacted our ability to do this.’

I have two issues with this: (1) there was a gap of at least 3 weeks between the two e-mails where they could have shipped items out and (2) from the way the e-mail reads, it sounds like they’re using COVID as a crutch. Yes, social distancing needs to be followed. And yes, COVID may be creating some minor delays. However, I don’t believe these delays can be contributed to it given how long of a lead time there was.

Given all of this, IMO what was supposed to be a physical race has now turned into one of those ‘$x for a charity’ races. You’ve probably seen them — $10-$15 for a medal/bib so you can do a virtual race. Because of this, I have asked ROX for a credit to be used for one of their future races. I know that they couldn’t control the initial change. But IMO, what it’s turned into is NOT what I bought — or what they advertised after it had to become a virtual race.

Hopefully things will reopen at the beginning of June so that I can salvage a big chunk of my 2020 season. Regardless, after 6 weeks of frustration, I am working on getting things in line so that I am ready for whenever it does start…

You Couldn’t Race Without Them (Shamrock Shuffle Prep) – 3/17/18

Over the last 5 years, I have participated in a LOT of races. And I’ve got a LOT planned for 2018. During that time, we (or more correctly my guides since I’ve been focused on running) have done our part to thank the volunteers that are out there.

But those are just one level of volunteers that help to make sure that the race you’re participating in goes smoothly. There’s usually a small army (or a large one for big events) behind the scenes doing every thing imaginable so you have a great race.

During St. Patrick’s Day, I joined that army putting together packets for the Shamrock Shuffle. Now before I even touched them, several other groups had already taken the time to do envelopes, tags onto bibs (timing and name) and labels on the envelopes. My part was to scan the bib tags and double check everything.

After scanning 1200-1500 of them, I’ve got a much better appreciation for just how much work goes into a smooth event. The moral of this story – make sure you thank the volunteers out there as you’re racing. A LOT of people have put in time to make sure you’ll have a great race day!

Let’s Shuffle…

06 - Pre-Race


Towards the end of 2014, I decided that I wanted to run the Shamrock Shuffle this year.  So while it was still cold, I went to the gym and started pushing towards 5 miles on the treadmill.  And once it got nice outside, Terri and I went running on different paths.  By the week before the Shamrock Shuffle, we were at 71 minutes for 5 miles, which was within the time limit.

Keri Serota, who is the coordinator for athletes with disabilities (AWD) helped us to get everything in line for the race, and the start.  Terri and I first met her when we picked up all of our packets the Friday before the race.

On race day, we arrived at the tent about 20 minutes before the start time, and checked in.  We got to meet Israel (another AWD) and his guide, as well as Lisa who works with Keri.  Keri walked the 5 of us out to the start line about 10 minutes prior, and we were stationed behind the wheelchair athletes.  We started about 2 minutes before the rest of the field, but the elite runners quickly caught up to us in the dark tunnel.

While it was a challenging race, it was a great experience.  I lost count of the number of people that were encouraging us as we ran.  I wrote a longer post about the weekend for The Imperfect Journey.  You can read it here.