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Coronavirus, Tokyo Marathon and your running event: YouTooCanRun advisory to running event organisers and runners

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus and with PM Modi giving a statement of avoiding Holi gatherings, the gravity of the situation at public events being conducted including marathons in our country has escalated. Runners are also aware of the Tokyo Marathon that was cancelled for recreational runners and restricted to only the elite runners. 

This advisory explores how we can deal with the situation both from an event organisers perspective and also from a runners perspective. 

As an Event Organiser:

Adhere to competent advise:

The virus seems to be breaking out and there is a global fear of an epidemic type of situation. Any event organiser has to be responsible as a civic citizen and follow the Public Health Advisory issued by either the UN or by the country’s own healthcare departments.

As of now, it is the word of precaution from the Prime Minister but it may soon become a public advisory. In this situation, the event organisers are caught between two predicaments. One is the cancelling of the entire event and incurring the losses and the other of going ahead with the event and being seen as bad corporate citizens. It is indeed, a difficult choice.

If the decision is taken to cancel:

If the decision has been taken to not hold the event, there are two ways to approach the situation. One would be to keep it in abeyance or postpone it to either a definite date or an open date for some time in the future. 

However, not all events have this option. Events like the Holi Run or events which have to occur on a specific date or coincide with a festival have to be conducted on the given date. There is no point of having a Holi Run kept in abeyance and being conducted months later, in such cases, it will have to be cancelled.

  1. When an event is cancelled, the Tokyo Marathon took the rule book and did not offer any refunds. This is because the “force majeure” clause was applied. However, in our country, the running population understands very little and the acceptance of such situations is very poor. Hence, event organisers will be forced to refund the money if they want to continue being engaged with the stakeholders in the running ecosystem.
  2. There is often no insurance in our country for such events and very few organisers take insurance. The expenditure incurred in promoting and marketing etc. will have to be borne by the event organiser in most cases. So the earlier the decision is taken, the better to cut losses.
  3. Event organisers should not delay cancelling the event because many runners make their Sunday plans accordingly and well in advance. Many runners book flights and hotel rooms and the earlier such cancellation happens, the less damaging it will be to the outstation participants. 
  4. The communication to the stakeholders of the event has to be conducted in a professional manner. Just as the engagement with the running community and the sponsors and other stakeholders was escalated in the months preceding the event, the same element of professionalism has to be shown in deescalating the situation. Best practices in PR and Crisis Management has to be invoked and the message conveyed should be in a professional and courteous manner.
  5. If the event is cancelled, the online registrations can be reversed and the runner can get the refund. However, if the event is postponed then the event organiser can offer to carry forward the registration to a subsequent date or offer a refund if desired by the runner.

As a Runner

The Coronavirus outbreak has serious ramifications and based on current knowledge, can spread through human contact. If however, you do have to participate, then there are various precautions to be followed.

  1. It is advised to avoid public gatherings where the virus can be contagious. Participating in runs with caution would be advisable
  2. As has already been mentioned, avoid being too close to other runners. The coronavirus is set to transmit through body fluids; spit, snot, sputum or sweat. The ideal scenario would be to avoid physical contact with other runners in crowded situations. So stay away from group Zumba dances for example.
  3. Carry a bottle of sanitizer with you and sanitize your hands if you have had to touch other runners or event crew.
  4. As a general precaution sleep well, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, destress through yoga, meditation, foam rollers, stretches, etc to generally keep your immunity higher.
  5. Over-training causes a drop in immunity while moderate or light training increases the immunity. Do MAF training, do lesser distances, do cross-training, cycling, swimming. Keep yourself fit and keep burning those calories but do not stress your immunity system too much.
  6. Follow the advice given on the World Health Organisation site. There are too many sites and besides the “University of the WhatsApp”, that keeps propagating information that is not authentic. Go with the best and read about the virus in this link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 and follow the instructions.

We trust that the coronavirus scare and the underlying risk abate soon. It is also said that the virus cannot survive in hot climates, so with summer quickly approaching, the risk of the virus is going to recede very fast. And lastly, we hope we are not overreacting to this situation.

Stay safe and happy running.

From,

Team YouTooCanRun

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