Is The Race Still On?

March 12, 2020

Dear Pistol Family!

We know that the constantly changing status of all things COVID-19 on an hour by hour basis can be quite unsettling and anxiety provoking for you wondering if The Pistol Ultra Run and Pistol Creek Runs are going to be cancelled or not, especially given the number of races that have been cancelled or postponed in the last 24 hours. As of the writing of this post, THE RACE IS STILL ON!! At this point, cancellation of events in areas without known cases of COVID-19 does not follow the recommendations of the CDC and WHO. Preparedness, not panic, and prevention are the keys and because of that, we are updating our policy on how we will conduct things at the race this year. 

But wait…given how rapidly things continue to change throughout the US and the rest of the world, we cannot guarantee that this will not change between now and then. Trying to guarantee that is about like trying to guarantee what the weather in East Tennessee will be on race day! We wish we knew, but we don’t. We are doing our best to keep up with all of the latest updates and recommendations from local, state, and national organizations to determine the best course of action to help keep our Pistol family of runners, family and friends, staff and volunteers safe. We are also striving to be responsible global citizens to minimize the risk of further spread of the virus.

Airlines, hotels and other businesses are increasing the frequency of cleaning facilities, disinfecting high-touch locations and providing additional supplies such as hand sanitizer to provide you the safest experience possible. The staff and volunteers of The Pistol Ultra Run are doing the same for all of you! We are doing our part to keep you safe. Now we ask that you do the same by reading and following the guidelines below. If you are unwilling or unable to abide by these guidelines, we ask that you please do not attend the Pistol races this year!

While we cannot strictly prohibit travel and participation at the race, we respectfully ask for you to be respectful citizens and act in the best interest of the local and global community. To accomplish this goal, here is the latest position of The Pistol Ultra Run to minimize risk of potential coronavirus spread listed below. (Please be aware that we will continue to update this as warranted by the changing scenario with COVID-19.)

Considerations on whether or not you should attend and race this year should include:

  • Are you in a high-risk group for the coronavirus? People over age 60 and those with heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes or other chronic illnesses that compromise your immune system are at highest risk.
  • Are you healthy overall coming into the race? Normal training loads, without overtraining, can actually help your immune system get stronger and helps most runners be less likely to get sick. However, the higher training stress load of an ultramarathon can decrease your immunity.
  • Athletes who have just finished a long race (anything greater than a half marathon) are at higher risk of getting sick afterwards with an upper respiratory infection, and this includes coronavirus. The added stress of the race weakens your immune system and increases your risk of infection in the coming weeks. Will this put you or people you come in contact with in your normal daily life at greater risk?
  • Are you in an area with known positive cases of COVID-19? Given the rampant spread of the virus, if you are in a positive area, you may already be infected and carrying the virus and not showing symptoms and could bring it to the race. 

The following persons are respectfully requested NOT to attend The Pistol Ultra Run and Pistol Creek Runs:

  • If you are sick, we strongly request that you please stay home and do not attend the race!
  • If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath (primary symptoms of COVID-19) please do not show up at the race. Please contact your physician and stay home!
  • If you have been in contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19 or is under investigation or quarantine for potential COVID-19, we strongly request that you please stay home.
  • If you are travelling from a foreign country with known travel alerts due to current disease outbreaks, we ask that you stay home.
  • If you are traveling from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, we ask that you stay home. 

We realize that you have all invested large amounts of time, energy, and money to be ready to participate in the Pistol races, but at this time, we must urge you to consider the safety of your fellow ultra running community and the global community at large and not risk exposing people unnecessarily. 

General Guidelines at All Times:

  • Stay home if you are sick! Just in case you missed it above!
  • Don’t panic! Use common sense! We are taking steps to ensure everyone’s safety to the best of our ability while still allowing the race to continue as uninterrupted as possible. Don’t ignore the very real threat of this virus, but don’t please don’t succumb to the hysteria being promoted by false information! Prepare, don’t panic!
  • Being outside in open areas away from large amounts of people lessens but does not eliminate the risk of the spread of the virus. This is one of the benefits of an outdoor running race compared to all the cancelled basketball, hockey, and other sporting events!
  • Social distancing guidelines recommend space greater than 6 feet between people to minimize risk of transmission. Please avoid congregating in small or confined spaces.
  • Wash your hands and wrists with SOAP AND WATER for more than 20 seconds! A lot…seriously…a ton! After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose – wash your hands. Use the bathroom or portapotty – wash your hands. Getting ready to eat or drink – wash your hands.
  • If hand washing is not available, hand sanitizer is recommended next.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
  • Sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow or into a tissue and then discard it and wash your hands.

Be considerate of these guidelines as they are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. We know it’s not the most convenient thing, but minimizing risk of transmission is that important!

Please realize and understand that in these uncertain circumstances, we will do our best to continue to keep you updated. However, anything and everything can and may change without notice right up through the event. By coming, you understand and accept this uncertainty and any changes that may occur.

Here is our current plan for the prerace schedule:

Check-In/Pre-race Activities:

  • Upon entering the school for check-in and packet pick up, hand sanitizer or wipes will be provided for each person. Please use this prior to proceeding to check-in.
  • The check-ins will continue as scheduled.
  • The Friday 2:30-4 pm workshop will continue as planned.
  • The Friday 5-6 pm prerace meeting will NOT be held
  • The Friday 6 pm past dinner will NOT be held. If you prepaid for it, we will refund your money at the Changes and Solution table.
  • The Saturday 7:30 prerace announcements will NOT take place inside the school. So it will be your responsibility to have already carefully studied the website Runner’s Manuals here for any information you need.

NOTE: We strongly encourage you to maintain social distance at all times, particularly when entering the school and proceeding through the check-in lines, getting your swag, visiting the Pistol Store and all other indoor activities. We also recommend that you minimize your time inside the school, particularly Saturday morning prior to the race starts.

Aid Stations and Food Service Areas Inside the School:

  • All food and drink will be served by volunteers and staff following precautions to minimize transmission. The virus has been found to live on plastic and metal surfaces the longest, so the risk of multiple ungloved hands handling utensils and containers is a risk.
  • Volunteers and staff working in food prep and service will follow hand hygiene and food service infection control guidelines.
  • Please be courteous to volunteers and patient in possibly having to wait longer for this safety measure. 
  • Single serving containers will be utilized as much as possible.
  • Please sanitize your hands first thing as you come into each aid station. We have what we hope will be enough hand sanitizer for everyone at this event. Please use it wisely.
  • Do not put your personal gear on the serving tables!
  • DO NOT EAT OR DRINK AT OR NEAR THE SERVING TABLES! Please move away so that respiratory droplets are not spread onto serving surfaces, food and drinks!
  • Be courteous, agreeable, and patient with volunteers who may ask you to sanitize your hands before proceeding, and/or recommend that you access things differently (or not at all), and/or want to help you with your food/drink, etc.
  • Remove the lid of your water bottle/bladder and hold it for a volunteer to fill with fluid from a pitcher
  • Parents: Please supervise your children near any communal spaces, particularly at the food table (no tiny hands grabbing snacks, please).

If you do not wish to use hand sanitizer, follow these guidelines or have any concerns about possible transmission of the virus at our aid stations, plan to bring your own drink/snacks and be self-supported.

Medical Aid:

  • Medical staff are scheduled to be onsite for the entire 32-hour duration of the race inside the school and also from 1 pm Saturday to 1 pm Sunday at Woody’s Aid Station. There is a team of a dozen healthcare providers with experience in endurance sports to help you navigate the challenges of your race. They are all trained in infection control procedures and prevention and will be following those guidelines. 
  • Please do not put your personal gear on the medical supply tables! 
  • Please wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer prior to coming to the medical areas for care whenever possible.
  • Please be aware that while infection control measures will be in use, you will be in close physical contact with providers. If you are uncomfortable with this, you do not have to utilize their services. 
  • If you use any of the self-treatment tools available, please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer prior to using them.
  • Limit the number of people at the medical aid stations to the runners unless additional people are indicated.
  • Treatment will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis overall, but runners on course will always take precedence over finishers, except in case of medical emergency. If you are a finisher, please be respectful of this for those still on the clock racing.

As stated before, each participant is solely responsible for their own decision to participate in our event and by willingly doing so, accepts full and complete responsibility for any and all risks that may be present, no matter what they are. If anyone is uncomfortable with this or unwilling to accept this responsibility, then they should not attend.

We have also consulted with local authorities and are monitoring and following federal, state and local guidelines and recommendations as they become available, as well as following industry best practices and policies. Currently there have not been any state- or county-wide recommendations to cancel an event such as ours. So at the present time, we have no plans to cancel or reschedule our race.

Our cancellation policy remains the same. You will find it on the event website here. We will do our best to keep you updated in the event of any further changes as we get closer to race day. 

Please understand that due to the current circumstances, we will not be able to provide the same world class experience that many of you have come to expect at the Pistol. However, rather than just cancelling it altogether, we are doing our best to give you the opportunity to participate, but with measures in place to help reduce the risks. Due to potentially reduced numbers of volunteers/staff available, some support you have come to expect at the Pistol may not be available as quickly, or even at all. So there may be extended wait times while we will still do our best to serve you safely and efficiently. Thanks for your understanding and patience during these ever-changing times as we pour our heart and soul into still providing the highest level of racing experience in the ultra community. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Pistol Party next weekend!

Will Jorgensen and The Pistol Team

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