We sent the following email out this morning to all registered participants of the Crooked Compass Adventure Trek:
It has been a long couple weeks. The news cycle is endless and the headlines increasing grim. While we try to hold onto some modicum of normalcy, we recognize that it's becoming harder and harder for everyone to do so.
We have been struggling about how to proceed with the Crooked Compass, and while it's impossible for us to project out and forecast what the US will look like in early April, we also know that the uncertainty of whether events will run creates its own sort of anxiety - and there's no need for more anxiety in the world right now. So, here's what we can tell you now:
We are going to have to cancel the event as planned.
That said, barring further changes - the parks revoking our permit, a widespread travel ban, something we can't even foresee at this point - we are planning to run the race in a virtual capacity, as so many of you have continued to express interest in getting out into the woods, by yourself or with a friend or two.
Believe us, we feel you. The woods have provided much-needed solace and escape for our family for the past week, so we are hoping to still provide you an adventure in the great outdoors courtesy of Rootstock, albeit with fewer people out there with you. If you care to read more about the thoughts we have about canceling the event as intended, read on. If you want to skip all that and just figure out what you and we are going to do, skim to the bottom… As you all know, the CDC has recently requested that all gatherings and events over 50 people postpone or cancel. To be honest, there are so many other considerations that already had us feeling like running the race as planned would be irresponsible, but this decision and others that we suspect are forthcoming make it a done-deal.
In addition to this recent development, we have spent a significant amount of time talking to other RDs in the Adventure Racing and Orienteering worlds and researching how other sporting organizations are contending with COVID-19. In doing so, it is clear that few events of any sort are going on as planned (we know there are some, but they are the exception), and ultimately, the safety or racers, volunteers, all of our families and our extended social circles must come first. Some added detail on our decision:
The need to cut down on travel and exposure: sure, we’re not asking people to jump on a plane, but many of our racers would have had to contend with eating, lodging, and gas establishments. The campgrounds at Cunningham Falls are now closed. For anyone relying on sleeping before or after the event, it is very difficult to do so with certainty.Regardless of your age, we all know older people, and many of us also have loved ones with compromised immune systems or other health issues. While we all need our individual releases, we as an organization are not comfortable putting others at risk. We respect that many of you are personally comfortable, but we do not want to make this decision to add risk to hundreds if not thousands of other people, even if the risk may be relatively small.We've all heard the argument that orienteering and adventure racing are “different”. And, to an extent, they are. But at the same time, while risks are certainly lower due to the dispersed nature of such events, there is still contact: before and after the race, with volunteers at check in and on the course, at each and every checkpoint. We had plans to minimize this contact considerably, but to ask racers and volunteers to take on this risk when our federal government, CDC, WHO, governors, principals and everyone else under the sun is encouraging people to stop gathering in larger numbers, simply feels irresponsible.If pubs in Ireland are closing on the eve of St. Pattys Day…well, what more needs to be said?
In all seriousness, these are hard time for all of us. We know that some of you will be disappointed. We know some of you will be relieved. We hope that many of you will still consider running with the positive and make a long day trip down to the course and run it. We will be sending out more details on that later, but we are planning to set the course and will likely leave it open for approximately one week, through the Saturday of the race. We will clear it on Sunday.
We probably don't need to say that all this may change between now and then, and the parks may no longer allow any access to their land. At that point we may consider trying to reschedule the event for the summer. For those dying for their t shirt: we will send it. We will be shifting food expense to shipping to make sure you get the latest Rootstock t-shirt. We're going to hold off on placing the order until closer to the event so that we're not ordering shirts for folks who aren't participating, but you will have it in your mailboxes within a few weeks of the virtual race.
And, for those who simply do not want to leave home, we understand.
Regarding finances: We ask for your patience. If the virtual event runs as planned and you choose not to participate, we will happily waive the two-week deadline outlined in our cancelation policy and extend a full credit toward a future Rootstock event. Feel free to let us know now if you know for sure that you won't participate - we're keeping a list. If we end up having to cancel the event in full, we will issue credits or refunds (at your preference) to everyone, less our expenses. We expect that this will be 85-90% of what you paid.
Thank you all, once again, for bearing with us as we try to make decisions with so many unknowns. You'll be hearing from us again. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and get outside.
We can't wait to see you all in the woods again soon,
Abby and Brent
*UPDATE: As of 11:00am on 3/16/2020, our permits have been revoked, but the land managers are currently supportive of individuals enjoying the woods in this virtual race capacity. We will keep you informed!
Are people all going to show up on the same day anyway?