The Reckless Raven 50 Mile Ultra and Relay will go ahead this Sunday with an approved health plan and mitigation to ensure athletes are physically spaced and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low.
The race, as posted on their website May 28, had two plans based on whether the Yukon was in Phase one or two of their COVID-19 reopening plan.
Since the Yukon is still in Phase one, Run for Life program director and Yukoner John Carson said that is the plan they will follow.
Run for Life is a Canada-based non-profit and operates through an enterprise model. Their mission is to “create, inspire and nurture learning and physical activity for the curious and open-minded.”
In Canada, it facilities school-based programs and community events such as the Reckless Raven.
The race begins at 6 a.m. Sunday at Mt. McIntyre. Staggered starts will be implemented and aid stations will not be as stocked as previous years to avoid “shareable foods – bottles and single-use packaging will be used to avoid cross-contamination.
Carson said two aid stations have also been removed for the 2020 race and that volunteers at the stations will be there to enforce the distancing rules.
“The stations will have hand sanitizer and pylons to keep physical distancing,” said Carson. “If someone is at the station when you arrive you’ll have to wait your turn.
“Relay runners will have a transfer stick, they will have to dip that in disinfectant before passing it on. The volunteers at the station will be enforcing these rules.”
The end of the race will also look different. Once runners cross the finish line they will receive their medal and beer and be asked to clear out.
“We are asking them to celebrate on their own,” said Carson. “We do have some fun stuff though, we are going to make the finish virtual.”
Despite the changes to the race, Carson said organizers are happy to be able to provide athletes with the ability to run and compete at an actual event.
“We’re doing this because the Yukon is full of outdoor enthusiasts and we want to give people the experience of running an ultra.
“This is a time to focus on your health and wellness and we are fortunate that things are opening up. This gives people a reason to race. The Yukon has a great opportunity to be outdoors and physical distance. We are just asking people not to run in groups.”
The course this year will be the same as in 2019, which means it will be just as gruelling as ever. It will start and end at Mt. McIntyre.
The trail route features three creek crossings, wetland valleys, exposed mountain ridges, forests, single track steep pitches, and periodically, no distinguishable trail.
Carson said this year’s race has 20 solo runners and about 25-30 teams for around 70 runners. He said the race usually draws about 150 athletes but this year no out-of-territory runners registered.
“We didn’t want bigger numbers than this,” said Carson. “It would have made it difficult to follow the guidelines. It’s truly an in-territory event.