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Social distancing and lockdowns have shattered racing plans and competition schedules for many athletes — pros and weekend warriors alike. The Boston Marathon is canceled. The Tour de France has been postponed, and pro and amateur sporting events from soccer tournaments to triathlons have been put on hold.
But this weekend, one event is bucking the cancellation trend: a 5K Spartan obstacle course race in Jacksonville, Florida. “We have procedures in place to make a Spartan event safer than going grocery shopping, going to Starbucks, or going in an elevator,” Spartan race founder Joe De Sena told Obstacle Racing Media. “We are expecting 4,000 Spartans per day for this event.”
Participants are encouraged to bring friends and family to the race. Social distancing will be required, and racers will start in waves, with 24 racers starting every five minutes. Water obstacles will be removed, and participants and volunteers will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms and subjected to a touch-free temperature check.
“Nothing has changed. The virus hasn’t changed. Our arsenal of treatments haven’t changed. Our biggest weapon right now is our behavior.”
The prospect of assembling thousands of people for a recreational sporting event worries public health experts. “Right now is not the time for these large gatherings,” says Syra Madad, special pathogens specialist at NYC Health + Hospitals. Communities may be opening up again, she says, but it’s important to understand that the risks of Covid-19 remain. “Nothing has changed. The virus hasn’t changed. Our arsenal of treatments haven’t changed. Our biggest weapon right now is our behavior.”
According to the Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool created at Georgia Tech, there’s a greater than 96% chance that there will be someone with Covid-19 at an event with 4,000 people. The Spartan race is taking place just after Florida set a new single-day record for coronavirus cases…