The Sunburst races on September 25 will look a lot like a pandemic, as all runners will have to mask off at the start line along Lafayette Boulevard near Four Winds Field in downtown South Bend.
Once the line is crossed, they can throw their masks into one of the 10 large barrels, spaced out to the sides, as the runners start to disperse through the streets without cars.
And on arrival inside the Notre-Dame stadium, they will have a few minutes to catch their breath until masked volunteers urge them to clear the track and put on a mask.
On Monday, Sunburst officials from the Beacon Health System emailed the 2,976 registered runners about a new set of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Race director Courtney Kipker said the measures appear to be more stringent than many other races.
“We look at what other races are doing and try to go on top of it,” she says. “Beacon being a healthcare system, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. “
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Its hospitals, after all, are on the front lines as the Delta variant has grown. The vaccination rate for St. Joseph County and Indiana hit 50% on Monday, but the county saw 737 infections spread to vaccinated residents, recently wrote Dr. Mark Fox, the assistant health worker, in The Tribune. Meanwhile, he said the county’s weekly case rate fell from 7.7 cases per 100,000 on July 2 to 325 cases per 100,000 on September 5.
The Sunburst returns after being canceled last year. Likewise, several outdoor walks, races and rides have returned cautiously this year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is advising schools that outdoor sports are generally less risky for transmitting COVID than indoor sports because outdoor air helps dispel the virus. But the CDC’s website also says the risk increases with closer contact with other people, prolonged contact, and more rigorous sports where breathing is heavier.
Sunburst Medical Director Dr Linda Mansfield said organizers had no initial plans for masks, but as local cases of COVID increased they decided to order masks where proximity to runners could still pose a risk – at the beginning and at the end. She notes that runners and walkers are encouraged to disperse on the course. Masks will also be provided.
On August 8, Beacon did not need starting masks during their much smaller, more relaxed run with around 250 runners, walkers and wheelchair users at Beacon Health & Fitness-Granger – which was split into waves – although Beacon had just reverted to a mask requirement inside the fitness center.
For the Sunburst, she says, it helps that the total number of runners to date has dropped by about half, which she attributes to a number of factors, including the delay from the usual date of early June. Before Monday’s announcements, only a handful had recently postponed their registration until next year, she said, due to pandemic concerns.
Runners will have room to spread out from the start line to South Street, she notes, and the half marathon, 10k run, 5k run and 5k walk will start. each in a separate group, 45 minutes apart.
During the course, Sunburst guidance states that they are encouraged to keep a safe distance from each other, unless it is someone from their own “close contacts”.
Unlike the much larger Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, which sees roughly 35,000 participants, Sunburst runners are not required to be fully immunized or test negative for COVID-19 because, according to Kipker, the local racing should not attract so many people from outside the area.
For now, the Chicago Marathon website says that participants are encouraged to wear masks in Grant Park just before the race and that masks will be available after that.
But, in Philadelphia, the Philly 10K race with nearly 3,600 runners required masks at the start and finish lines on August 29, but not during the race. The 11K Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts, with approximately 8,000 runners, required masks at the start line in mid-August.
Sunburst’s new precautions were developed by its staff and Beacon’s COVID task force, Kipker says.
• Masks are required for all indoor operations, such as picking up packages.
• Rest areas will provide open cups of water and sports drinks, but volunteers at stops must wear gloves and masks. They are encouraged to wear eye protection, which will be provided.
• Spectators are allowed at the Notre-Dame stadium but only in the seating area. They must mask themselves if they cannot keep a physical distance.
• Any runner with last minute symptoms or exposure can get a full refund.
The races benefit the Beacon Children’s Hospital. Learn more or sign up, which costs between $ 85 and $ 35, at sunburstraces.org.
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Northern Freedom Trails
The Town of North Liberty will be hosting a free 5-mile walk, run and bike ride Saturday at 9 a.m. to celebrate its new 0.87-mile-long Stellar Trail. It connects two other trails for a total of 1.95 mile curve, tip to tail.
The walking, running and hiking the trails will start separately, with water, snacks and prizes offered. It will start from North Liberty Elementary School, 400 School Drive (from Main Street / Indiana 23 at the north end of town, head east on Wolf Street to School Drive).
The Stellar Trail connects the 0.2 mile School Trail and the 0.88 mile Tamarack Trail. Gerry Brown, a city council member, said the city built Tamarack after small children cycled down the road to reach the ball fields through a VFW post. The school path links the school to the neighborhoods. Part of the new Stellar Trail runs along an old railway line.
By bringing the three trails together, you can go from elementary school in the north to a pedestrian bridge that crosses Potato Creek, then follow the Stellar and Tamarack trails south to the southern edge of town at the nearby ball fields. from the VFW post on Quinn and Tamarack roads.
In the middle, the trails stop at the North Liberty Community Center, 300 S. Main St.
Brown says the city is still hoping to build a city trail at Potato Creek State Park, which has been a dream for years. Municipal authorities are currently in the process of planning.
• Historic Elkhart Hike for Fitness: The Ruthmere Museum has built a 1.6-mile loop that you can walk on your own through the heart of the city, combining stops to learn some of the city’s history and stops to get your body moving. And there’s a free app to go with it. This historic fitness hike can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play. You can also find the same map and short paragraphs for each of the 26 stops on historyhike.org. Stops include bridges, a dam, parks, the Ruthmere Mansion, Havilah Bearsley House and the Ten Commandments monument, interrupted by shoulder rolls, kicks and other exercises from fitness experts, each illustrated by a video.
• Elkhart River Challenge: This new 17.2 mile endurance race on October 2 is offering a prize of $ 2,000 for the best paddler, plus a draw of $ 500, as part of a fundraiser for the non-profit association Goshen Lacasa. Canoe or kayak runners will enter the Elkhart River via the Lincoln Avenue Bridge in Goshen and finish at Island Park in downtown Elkhart. Registration, including a t-shirt, costs $ 50 if you have your own boat or $ 100 with a kayak rental or $ 140 for two people with a canoe rental. There will also be a Studebaker Canoe / Kayak Parade to Island Parks from 8am to 10am with prizes for the best decorations. Register at elkhartriverchallenge.org.
• On the edge: The St. Joseph County Youth Service Bureau is looking for a few “curlers” to rappelling down the side of the Robertson’s apartment building in downtown South Bend on October 1st. Almost 80 people have already signed up for the Over the Edge waterfall, now in its fifth year, to raise money for the charity. Most of the time, officials say they are looking for donors to pledge to support edgers at ysbsjc.org/ote2021. Participants must wear masks inside the building, but masks are optional when rappelling.
Follow Outdoor Adventures columnist Joseph Dits on Facebook at SBTOutdoorAdventures. Contact him at 574-235-6158 or [email protected]