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In-person racing event returns to Vancouver with COVID-19 protocols

With COVID safety measures in place, about a thousand runners participated in a staggered race event Sunday.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A regional racing event organizer is bringing back larger, in-person events after a year of COVID complications.

Why Racing Events in Vancouver arranged with the city to follow safety protocols for the Couve Clover Run on Sunday morning.

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.

Instead of big groups of family and friends on the sidelines, Why Racing Events live streamed segments of the race on Facebook.

"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.

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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."

The event raised money for SHARE and the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools.

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.

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