Today registration opened at 1:20 PM. Several people have already registered. Last year registration closed after 11 days, when it reached capacity.
Some folks have been asking about lodging options.
There is a rustic primitive small campground open all year round where one can do tent camping or pull in a motor vehicle and sleep in the vehicle. That's the Sioux Camping, and the cost comes to about $24 considering the transaction fee.
Right next to the event HQ there are 10 modern cabins, in two size configurations, one that sleeps 6 and the other 8. They have a kitchen, fridge, sofa, dining table, bunk beds, and modern bathroom. If you are in a group, this is definitely the best option. They come up to $104/$127 respectively (6/8 people).
Ohers have used hotel/motel chains that are clustered near the Pittsburgh Airport, which is relatively close by.Lodging and Camping Infodogs: are allowed in the event as long as they comply with state park rules.
At 3 weeks before event, there are about 35 spots still available before reaching the maximum capacity dictated by park permit. In the previous years, the event reached full capacity within the first month from opening of registration. This year, something peculiar happened: capacity was not reached, and for the first time in 10 years, we got spots open at few weeks before event. In addition, in the past two weeks, a few people cancelled for fear of the #coronavirus. So, if you were considering coming to Raccoongaine, but you are a late-decider, this is your lucky year. As usual, we scattered 50 checkpoints in the open forest, give you two paper sheets sized 11x18 with map at scale 1:15000, and at the end, offer a buffet of cooked-on-the-premises food. Of the 50 checkpoints, only 46 are printed on the map. The locations of the missing 4 are a "mystery". Their location is revealed on mini-maps hanging at 4 corresponding "mother" checkpoints. The participants are given no knowledge on which of the 46 checkpoints are the "mother" checkpoints. It's an element of randomness that stirs up a bit the pot, and we have been using this recipe since year one 11 years ago. Some folks don't like it, some folks love it. For the past 11 years, we kept the same format from the same recipe. In addition, this year we are dousing each control flag in alcohol and subjecting them to a bath of high-intensity UV light, to kill any coronaVirus. (yeah... sure...) See y'all in 3 weeks.
I think it would be appreciated from a health perspective as well as an environmental perspective if items that typically get handed out in packets just get emailed to participants. You can leave flyers and freebies out on tables for those that want them.
The only thing I think I need to do when I get there is sign the waiver (could this be electronic too?) and get my map and epunch.
I want to share with you my thoughts on COVID-19 and Raccoongaine. I really don’t want to endanger anyone’s health; but I also don’t want to cancel Raccoongaine unless it becomes obvious that participants' health is at risk.
There are several factors favoring holding the event. 1) Our numbers are considerably less than the 250 person limit that the PA governor has suggested for gatherings – we have about 115 for Saturday and 90 for Sunday. 2) Generally, the participants are in good health, otherwise they wouldn’t be willing to spend several hours roaming around the woods. 3) We can take precautions: a) we can suggest that during route planning people stay as far apart as possible, perhaps even doing the planning in their cars; b) we can require people to wash their hands or use sanitizer before the meal and to stay as far apart as possible during the meal; c) we can sanitize the borrowed SI cards and the pens you use for signing waivers (after each signing) or ask you to bring you own pen to sign; d) we can clean common surfaces (tables & chairs).
There is at least two factors against holding the event. One of you may bring the virus to the event and infect others. Also, some people at the event fall into the vulnerable category because they are more than 60 years old (including me); and even if you aren’t that old, if you catch the virus, you can still come in contact with someone who is older or has underlying conditions (at the event or elsewhere).
My plan is to do the following: I had previously allowed any team to withdraw until March 15 with only a $2 penalty per person; I am removing the limiting date – you can now withdraw with the $2 penalty right up to the event itself. I am asking any of you who do not feel well, especially if you have any of the virus symptoms, to withdraw. And I am going to wait until March 20 to make a final decision about holding the event. If things have changed (governor imposing more restrictive measures, much wider spread of COVID-19 victims in PA, different advice from our in-house physician), I will send email to participants on March 20 canceling and will issue refunds to everyone. If things seem about the same as now, I will send email on March 20 giving you driving and weather information for Raccoongaine.
a Facebook post by DCNR (Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources) of Pennsylvania just announced that events, races, etc etc from March 13 to April 30 are cancelled.
Camping in campgrounds is allowed during that time
About 30 minutes after my previous post, I learned that PA DCNR was canceling all events in State Parks through the end of April. It took a little while to confirm this but it is true. Raccoongaine is therefore canceled. I will be refunding entry fees.