Update from 2020 US Trail Running Conference in light of COVID-19

Announcement from American Trail Running Association partner US Trail Running Conference. Written by conference director Terry Chiplin (pictured above – photos by Peter Maksimow).

So much has changed since our last newsletter. In these uncertain times, we trust that you, your family and loved ones are staying healthy.

We are committed to enabling the US Trail Running Conference to take place as scheduled October 21 – 24, 2020. Like you, we will be watching how our society reacts to the phased opening of businesses and events following the lockdown period – we will work with our friends and colleagues in Fayetteville to provide a safe, respectful, and successful Conference based on whatever regulations or advisories are in place at that time. We will keep you updated as the situation becomes clearer nearer to time.

During the last 8 weeks or so, the endurance race industry has effectively been shut down. In total around 7,600 events have been cancelled or postponed, and over 3 million athletes have been impacted. We have all faced fear and likely anger as the life and business we have been used to has ground to a rapid and unexpected halt. Race Directors have created innovative ways to enable runners to still have a goal event to aim for, even if it means a virtual race on a treadmill indoors. A crisis like this has always been an opportunity for entrepreneurs like us to get creative.

One chink of light in the midst of this proverbial tunnel has been that parts of the industry have come together to form an action group – if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend checking out the Endurance Sports Coalition.

In the midst of all that has been happening, probably much like you, I have been enjoying a chance to reflect, and then struggling with words to express what all of this means. My colleague Brandon Laan from Race Roster recently sent me this amazing quote from award winning poet, activist and author, Sonya Renee Taylor, that does a great job of encapsulating my emotions and feelings during the last 8 weeks or so, and the opportunity we now have:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all humanity and nature.” – Sonya Renee Taylor

I will be working with our friends and colleagues at the American Trail Running Association in the next few weeks to modify our planned schedule to make sure we include time to discuss the new future for our sport, and the changes this crisis has given us the opportunity to create.

Together we can work out how to change and adapt so that our businesses survive, and that we create new events that runners will want to come and experience. Like you and I, people are not going to stop running – as a goal driven species, we will strive to push boundaries and take part in events, whatever that may look like. We will find a way.

I would welcome input on ideas for content for the Conference schedule from the many Race Directors that are on this list, and those that have already registered for the Conference. Feel free to e-mail your thoughts and ideas to terry@ustrailrunningconference.com.

Editor’s Note: Be safe as we continue to navigate the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to follow the recommendations and updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including proper hygiene practices. Also consider reading iRunFar’s COVID-19: A Trail Running and Ultrarunning Community Guide.