VANCOUVER, Wash. — A regional racing event organizer is bringing back larger, in-person events after a year of COVID complications.
The company avoided drawing big crowds by having athletes register for different timeslots. Groups of eight runners at a time had staggered starts every minute. Participants had to pass health screenings and temperature checks, were spaced apart with cones and wore masks.
"Having us all together in one spot has been pretty amazing," owner and event organizer Karissa Schoene said.
In the last year, Schoene explained Why Racing Events has only hosted one in-person race. About 300 athletes ran in October.
The rest of its originally planned races had to be adjusted virtually, with runners recording progress on social media.
Schoene said returning to an in-person race is extra special at the start of 2021.
"It's camaraderie, it is a sense of community, it is a feeling of normalcy," Schoene said. "We don't have that right now."
Why Racing Events expected Sunday's Couve Clover Run to draw about 1,000 participants over a three-hour period or approximately 325 people per hour.
“There’s more people than that in Costco at any given time,” Schoene said. "Plus [we're] outdoors where the risk is minimal."
In 2020, Schoene said athletes helped Why Racing Events fundraise $550,000, which is about half its average in other years.
However, with more than a dozen more events planned for 2021, Schoene is optimistic for a rebound.
"Right now it looks like everything is going to be live," she said.