* The following was emailed to all registered 2020 Afton Trail Run runners and volunteers on Friday May 22, 2020.
I hope this email finds you all continuing to do as well as you can given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in. Cheri and I are hanging in there but the reality of our situation seems to set in a little more each day. Even as some things start to reopen, the future is uncertain for so many of us. While we know that this crisis is going to cause a lot more pain before it is over, we are focusing on what is most important; we are fortunate to have our health and our loved ones, sadly not everyone can say that right now and those individuals are in our thoughts. Like every dark night that has come before… the sun will eventually rise.
Today is May 22 and I wanted to provide you with an update to my April 23 correspondence – if you missed it or would like to review it, it can be found HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/covid-19-update-4-23-20-afton-trail-run/ – we are currently just over 6 weeks out from the Afton Trail Run. Although it is looking unlikely that it will proceed, the 27th annual Afton Trail Run is still scheduled for Saturday July 4, 2020.
This past Wednesday Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced additional information about the phased reopening of Minnesota as we transition from the “Stay Home MN” order to the “Stay Safe MN” order. While June 1st will mark the beginning of Phase II of the “Stay Safe MN” order and the loosening of some additional restrictions in the state, it still does not allow for groups of more than 10 to gather nor does it allow large public gatherings / sporting events. Phase III, for which there has been no beginning date given, will allow for groups of 20, but still no large public gatherings / sporting events – obviously this does not bode well for the Afton Trail Run. While we were able to get registration shut down in early April when we realized the significance of the virus and the impact it was going to have on the race season, we are still sitting with 456 registered runners, which is a big race in itself. On a normal year the race sells out with 975 registered runners, 200 volunteers and 600+ friends / family / spectators.
We are continuing to work closely with Afton State Park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other local authorities as additional guidance becomes available. We are continuing to update our risk assessment and operating plans as real world conditions and guidance from the state changes. As I have mentioned all along, even if there is movement in the coming weeks and we are ‘technically’ able to proceed, we will ultimately place the health and safety of our runners, volunteers, communities where our races are held and the general public above all else. I want to be very upfront that at this point we have shifted our thinking from “the race has not been canceled and we are continuing to make preparations for the event” to “the race will most likely be cancelled but we are holding out the slightest of hope that it may be able to proceed and as such are continuing to make preparations”.
Right now we see three weeks out from race day as the absolute cutoff date for a final decision to be made in order to be able to sanely and safely host the well organized event that you have come to expect. You will hear from me by no later than June 14. Should you have any questions between now and then, please contact me and I will promptly get back to you.