Big Bear Events : COVID-19 - Update

COVID-19 - Update

Update 16/03/20 21:00

Email sent to all entrants of the Bigfoot Challenge and Swan Challenge

I didn’t want to have to write this email. We are going to cancel/postpone the Bigfoot Challenge and Swan Challenge.

I had hoped that the ramp up in government response would happen over the next couple of weeks after our events had happened, but it appears escalation has happened quickly. Despite no outright ban (or any direction from UKA in the last 6 days!) it is clear the country is going into the period of extreme social distancing. To hold events in this environment seems irresponsible. I understand our events are outside, small and as such a lower risk, but I’m not sure I’d describe them as “essential” - regardless of how good the medals are!

I am truly sorry to cancel the events, especially given many entered in the last week or so as other events had cancelled. I had fully intended on putting these events on until tonight's news conference. I have the pre-race emails in my outbox ready to go that I had written only 4 hours ago, but the situation has moved quicker than I had expected. I can’t justify putting an event on with the public information out there, I have faith in the Chief Medical Officer and the governments measured, scientific plans. I know Boris said “go out and exercise” but I’m not sure he meant 100 people doing 10 laps of Daventry Country Park on Thursday. Please do get out and exercise though, it's essential. Get on the trails and stay healthy. You’ll need those legs for when our races are back on, I’ll be expecting extra laps from all of you to make up for the forced break!

We will wait for guidance from UKA in regards to our Salcey Spring Challenge on Tuesday 28th April and our Bluebell Challenge on Wednesday 6th May but expect these to be cancelled too. Hopefully the national governing body will give guidance in the coming hours or days, but I wanted to act quickly and decisively on the events we’ve got in the next 10 days.

Lastly, I’m truly gutted to do this. I’m a runner, I was meant to be going to the Paris Marathon. I assume an event I was meant to be doing while in Menorca in May will be cancelled as will the family holiday itself. I’ve got an event on Saturday I’m waiting to be cancelled any minute to. It’s really rubbish, to put it very mildly, but it is necessary. Hopefully we’ll all come back better and stronger. In the meantime, please keep running and looking after yourselves and those around you.


Big Bear Events

I assume these will be the 2 main questions…

Will you be giving refunds?
We’ll happily transfer your place or give a race credit voucher. We don't want you to lose out. The easiest action is for me to transfer your entry to another event, that involves literally 2 clicks. However, I appreciate given the uncertainty, you may not wish to commit to any new dates. If any new event you picked were to be cancelled, you’d still be able to transfer again of course (however annoying that would be!).

If you are unsure as to which event you’d like to take part in you can have a free race entry voucher to use against any of our 6 hour events, this will be valid indefinitely, so no rush to book again. If you could let me know via email (here)what you’d like to do in the next few days though that would be great. I expect I’ll be spending the next week or so creating a few hundred voucher codes, it’s quite labour intensive unfortunately.

Hopefully you view this as being fair. It’s not what you wanted of course - it’s not what anyone wanted – but you don’t lose out and Big Bear Events can survive to put events on for years to come.

Will the events be rescheduled or are they just cancelled?
I will look to rearrange these events for later in the year. We already have a jam-packed calendar so this may be tricky. I will explore this in the next week or so and update via Facebook.

If you have further questions either email me directly be replying to the email or contact us on our Facebook page, it might be answered there already.

Update 16/03/20 15:00

We've planned our "on the day changes" while the country is on alert and our events can continue. These instructiuons are being emailed out to all competitors in their pre-race info.

In terms of on the day changes please note the following.

  • We like to be friendly, especially to returning runners, but we won’t be shaking hands etc. We’ll get the “Whuan Shake” out though!
  • There will be no timing chips given out, we will do “semi-manual” timing. All this means in reality is we will tap your number in on the laptop rather than the sensors pick your number up. We often do this at the end of events anyway. The impact on you will be no more than 1s on the first lap if you arrive in groups, and there will be no impact otherwise. As the chips are reusable we’d need to disinfect them all which isn’t ideal or very possible for our next event in 6 days.
  • All of our volunteers will be gloved throughout the day and changing them regularly (we just bought 500 of them for our upcoming events!!)
  • We will “drop” race numbers in your hands. We’ll also put 4 safety pins together for you (or buy our magnets!!)
  • We’ll ask you all to keep apart for the race briefing, don’t worry we’ll just shout louder! We’ll also ask you to do the same for the race start, you’ll only lose a second or 2.
  • The aid station…
    • You must not pick up your food. Our gloved volunteers will give you a paper plate and place food on your plates.
    • We will not be “preparing” any food. This means no butter on scones, no nuttella wraps, no sandwiches etc. anything that requires cutting or buttering we won’t have. Rubbish we know but an extra precaution. We will try and get extra bits to fill the void though. If you want a sandwich you’ll need to bring your own. We’ll have jelly babies and jaffa cakes, we’ll put them on your plate for you.
    • Drinks. We will fill your vessels as you hold them. If 75 people touch the tap on the water jugs that’s not great. Just wait 5s and we’ll do it for you. We’ll still have electrolyte, coke, water and hot drinks, we’ll just do it for you.
    • Ultimately you’re getting waited on – enjoy it!
  • When you finish, we’ll not be hanging medals around your neck but dropping them in your hands. We’ll also be careful when passing you the flapjacks and drinks.
  • We love our “finishers boards” but rather than encourage you to use them all the time we’ll ask you to use them sparingly and with gloves on, the finishing bell will be left in the box too!
  • Be mindful when running to not spit everywhere. Given COVID-19 is spread in this way it’s very irresponsible behaviour. Be a good citizen.
  • Unfortunately we’ve decided it best to not have Kerry from Bodyline Massage Services with us. We’re gutted about this but brining in a new element of lots of touching seems a bit silly at this time. We’ll 100% have Kerry back with us once we’re back to normal though.

These are the ways we think we can limit “contact”. The list isn’t endless though and requires you, and everyone else, to be mindful of the situation we’re in. We want to be a little escape for a day so please just think a little so we can be for everyone involved.


COVID-19. What a pain.

Things have escalated incredibly quickly, and we didn’t want to add to the hysteria and social media hyperbole surrounding it. We thought a post might be a bit dramatic on Monday but having just received 5 messages from runners since Ashby 20, London and Manchester marathons and numerous others have cancelled we thought not saying something was keeping you in the dark.

Essentially, we’re full steam ahead until told to do otherwise. UK Athletics, who ultimately insure (via the Trail Running Association) all of our events, released a statement yesterday off the back of the latest government advice to event organisers that there is no need to cancel events. Clearly others have taken a different approach. 40,000 people running from all over the world with 1 million spectators along the streets of London is a bit of a different prospect to 100 people in a park in Daventry! We don’t really have a spectator risk and the numbers are just on a different scale. More people will go through the front door of a Starbucks each day than will be at our events.

We will be doing all we can to minimise the risk at our events. We’ll have to change the way our aid station works, there will be a lot more “gloved-giving” of food rather than you pick at will from the plates. Massive bear hugs for smashing distances might be off the cards too and instead the “Wuhan shake” might be deployed! It won’t be exactly the same but it’ll be good friendly running (hiking and walking) in the countryside with like-minded people still! You just can’t grab a fist full of jelly babies… we’ll have to pass the jelly babies to you!

The biggest thing we ask is if you have symptoms of COVID-19 – cough, difficulty breathing or fever – please stay at home. We know you want to run and be outside but you’d be jeopardising other people’s health, and ultimately making it more likely that vulnerable people will die. A bit dramatic and stark but the truth nonetheless. If you have serious underlying health conditions, seriously consider the risk to yourself.

Of course, we will follow government advice. If large sporting events are still being cancelled, we still plan to go ahead. If gatherings of over 50 people are advised against then we’ll pause. We intend to continue with our events while 1) we can be insured; 2) the government don’t advise us to stop; and 3) the landowners allow us to enter and use their sites.

There may be unexpected problems along the way. As most of you know, the big corporate machine that is Big Bear Events is really just me, Paul, father of 4-year-old twins. If their school closes, I have a problem. If I get it, that’s a problem! If Ann and Dave (my mum and dad!) who have volunteered at every event so far get it, we have a problem. If the other volunteers aren’t able to attend, I have a problem. These events (like many, many other small businesses) are reliant on a very small number of people to put them on and, as such, contingency plans are very difficult to initiate.

To be clear, if there is a cancellation we’ll of course transfer your entry to another event or give you a race credit for you to enter one in the future. You can also withdraw yourself up to 7 days before an event and do the same thing, transfer or receive race credit. These have always been our terms and we think they are fair for all concerned in the event of a cancellation. If we have to cancel an event we’ll get an email out to all participants as soon as we know. If you haven’t heard anything from us, the event is on.

Hopefully that is clear (we’re never concise unfortunately!). We want to put on our events, and we have no intention of stopping them until we’re forced to do otherwise. But we’ll follow the advice of people in the know. If you have any further questions do ask but hopefully it’s pretty clear.

Thanks, and hopefully we’ll see you out on the trails soon,

Big Bear Events