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Gorges Ithaca Half community, I hope this finds you all healthy and as well as can be expected given the current state of the world. Thank you for sticking with us this year, through the uncertainty and delay. A couple weeks ago I was grateful to put on the Cayuga Trails and Lucifer's Crossing trail races here in Ithaca, one of the few formal and non-virtual races in New York to have run this year. To get there I put considerable time into reformatting the course, event structure, and sequencing for the weekend to minimize risk as best that we could. It required us, with the strong support of the New York State Parks, who, feeling good about our history and modified event plan, to take it all the way to the Governor's Office proper for approval which we were granted, with contingencies. Thankfully it went well and with reports from several that they felt safer running our event than going to the grocery store. We're hopeful for, but waiting on, permits for two other trail races slated for September.
The Ithaca Half however is a bit different equation. It demands a greater community impact, with road closures, more staging, community and volunteer resources, and carries a higher entrant fields than our trail events. I've been working on various pieces including a new course configuration to eliminate the need for buses, altered start and finish areas, a plan similar to that use for Cayuga with wave starts, limited aid on course, post race food to go (with caterers still on board), insurance in place, have a thousand shirts already paid for and delivered, and a call out for volunteers. I'm confident that as a running community, we could do this with very minimal risk.
As of this past week however, I made, sat on for a bit, and re-committing to the decision to cancel this year's Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon. The deciding and driving factor for me, is the state of Ithaca and the surrounding communities in this moment, and projected over the next couple of months. While Ithaca's been lucky to have had a relatively low number of positive COVID cases, there is quite a bit of continued uncertainty, as well as a rise in anxiety, apprehension, fear, and tension in our community for individuals, families, and businesses ahead of a return to schools, both our local school district, and, even more, with regards to University students returning.
For many of us as runners, being able to participate in a formal and community event would offer a much needed release of tension, a reward of social, emotional, and physical well-being. But, what I also know is that our footprint would be felt, that we'd strain an already taxed City and Parks resource base, and that we'd exacerbate that stress and anxiety for many in the community, and, in that sense, do damage to not only Red New Racing and my family, but, more critically, our running community at large. That, on top of the still existing risk for contributing to a single additional person contracting, or spreading COVID into the Ithaca or larger running community.
This past week I've been grappling with some of what might be needed to offer a virtual option. I was on the phone with the Parks today sorting out what that might look like and with one of the hitches being that insurance is required, and that insurers are not insuring virtual events. As I continued to weave through modifying that vision accordingly, I came to realize that although a virtual option would be motivating and a welcome goal and endeavor for many, that it's not reflective of what I so much value and a have created in the Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon. That is, an opportunity for us a locals to come out, and welcome so many more from around the country, to join in celebrating the beauty of Ithaca, the individuals and businesses that add color and of our beautiful landscape.
So this evening I made the decision to cancel the 2020 running of the Gorges Ithaca Half. All entrants will be provided the opportunity to either differ to 2021, receive a full refund less processing fees. My hope is that the majority of you will stick with us in community support and solidarity, with hopes and a good vision for coming back together and stronger in 2021. We'll follow this up with an online portal or spreadsheet to let us know your decision, and will work to get refunds out to everyone who choose that option by mid September, and with it, a survey of whether we should stick with a summer event, or looking towards labor day of 2021. We'll decide this as soon as we have a feel for the trajectory of COVID for next year. To all those who are very much let down by my decision and this news, my many apologies for my decision in not pushing forward to bring us to the starting line for this year. Thanks to all of you for your patience, support, and in advance to all who support and stick with us in rolling into next year.
Hopefully we'll connect on the roads or trails soon, and, until that time, run on.
Additional race information can be found at http://rednewtracing.com/GorgesIthaca.
The Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon, presented by Cayuga Medical Center, brings you a taste of gorges Ithaca. The course follows the Black Diamond Rail Trail and paved Cayuga Waterfront Trail, offering a fantastically fast and scenic half marathon.
Upping the adventure value, the course uses a point to point format, starting from the Cayuga Medical Center and ending just shy of the Ithaca Commons. Runners will have a short uphill off the start, followed by a residential couple road miles including descent into the Black Diamond railtrail. From there entrants will be treated to 4.5 miles of a gentle downhill grade over hard-packed cinder, passing numerous waterfalls along the way. After leaving the BDT runners will run point to point along the paved Cayuga Lake Waterfront Trail, before exiting for a final mile and half through Ithaca's Fall Creek neighborhood.
Each runner will receive 6 (potentially 7) aid stations on course, a catered spread of local food and beverage post-race with a band to relax to, and a finisher's waterbottle, medal, and a Patagonia sleeveless T that you'll hopefully want to wear every day (guaranteed only to the first 1100 entrants). Complimentary Bus Shuttle from the Ithaca Commons to the Start Line for all runners is included in the race entry fee. Hopefully we'll luck out with another beautiful weekend in a pretty great part of the world. Join us. And bring a friend.
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