When the pandemic began in March, many Canadians figured we’d sit tight a couple of weeks and this thing would blow over. Fast forward nine months and COVID-19 is still an everyday consideration. When race directors canceled their 2020 events, few considered the possibility of having to cancel their 2021 events as well. However, as 2020 draws to a close without an end to the pandemic in sight, RDs are preparing for the possibility of two consecutive years without races.
Michelle Kempton is the race director of Maritime Race Weekend, which takes place annually in September. The event runs in a small fishing village 10 minutes from Halifax, with the start and finish line beside the ocean. Maritime Race Weekend has become an international tourism event for Nova Scotia, but Kempton is concerned about the race’s future. She explains that their event is a registered not-for-profit (as many races in Canada are) and that they don’t have a rainy-day fund to draw upon. “Because we’re a not-for-profit, we don’t carry over money, so at the end of our year, we donate everything. When COVID hit, we’re not in a situation where we have a huge nest-egg to draw from.”
Kempton explains that beyond paying their own bills, Maritime Race Weekend also donates to local run groups to help them with funding. “We help clubs in Nova Scotia by funding things like facility rentals and insurance fees. We had no race this year, so we couldn’t make a donation to them. Usually, we give them thousands of dollars, so it’s not like they don’t miss that cash.”
Kempton also explains that MRW has bills regardless of whether they put the race on, like website maintenance and equipment storage. “Now we’re not even sure we’ll be able to run our 2021 event, and we have bills to pay either way. We now need the help of the running community to keep the lights on.”
How runners can help
Maritime Race Weekend has launched several efforts to raise funds for themselves and their running community, including a summer camp with training plans and coaches, a summertime virtual race and the upcoming New Year’s Day Reboot Run. “For the Reboot Run, we’re charging money, but participants will be mailed race kits.”
On top of the Reboot Run, MRW is doing a 50/50 fundraiser, which is only open to Nova Scotians.
Race directors hope to be back in full force as soon as possible, but for now, if runners are looking to help keep their favourite event afloat they can do so by racing virtually, buying merch and participating in fundraisers.