Suffice it to say, 2020 was a whacky year! I ran two races in February and that was it. Everything went virtual shortly after that and as enterprising as the whole virtual thing is, I see those as individual time trials, not races.
As the calendar turns, we are probably all asking ourselves what racing will be like in 2021? Can we organize our training around target races and expect them to happen? Let’s take a look at what is known, or at least assumed, based on the latest COVID-19 facts and projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the data from which is generally used by the U.S. government and states for planning the Covid-19 response:
- Covid-19 is going to be with us and affect how we do things well into the year.
- That said, under various scenarios and assuming we keep our collective foot on the pedal with respect to public health measures, daily infections and deaths from Covid-19 are expected to peak in mid-January and then linearly decline so that by April 1 both are about 15% of peak levels. This is very good news!
- Even with that decline, vigilance will be needed for the foreseeable future to ward off a resurgence of the virus.
The last point brings in the concept of “herd immunity”, which IHME describes as “a high enough percentage of a population has either had the disease, or been vaccinated against it, that the chance of it spreading is very low.” Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested recently that at least 70% of the population should be vaccinated for this to happen and that by April he sees vaccine availability as “open season,” meaning all who want it will have access, though the logistics might mean it takes a month or two before everyone is served. While acceptance of vaccines was only just above 50% in September according to Pew Research Center survey, that rate seems to be rising as the effectiveness of vaccines has since been reported at 94-95%. So 70% may feasible.
Bottom line, all this suggests there is a reasonably good chance there will be a menu of races, perhaps with some restrictions and protocols at first, by early summer. Those protocols might include wearing masks up until the start and then right after the finish, or even during races, and reduced gathering before and after races. As to masks, most fitness facilities require this now, even when on a treadmill. It takes some getting used to — another aspect of training!
There is pent up demand for racing. We all feel it! And while we don’t want to be foolish and rush into things that will set back the response to COVID-19, there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, we can take advantage of the winter months to keep or build our mileage, get in some speed here and there, and keep our weight down. And when the races start up in earnest, we’ll be ready. See you there!