Race Across America Cancels 2020 Race And Looks Forward To 2021
April 6, 2020
First Time In 39 Years There Will Not Be A Race Across America
Boulder, CO (April 6, 2020) On Friday, April 3, Race Across America (RAAM) officially notified racers, support crew and staff that the 2020 Race would be cancelled. This will be the first time since inception in 1982 that RAAM will not take place. It was decided that given current public policy imperatives designed to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, travel restrictions, the uncertainty as to the course of the pandemic, the commitment of resources required by racers and crew and other factors, the Race must be cancelled.
Fred Boethling, RAAM President/CEO, explained, “RAAM has taken place for 38 consecutive years. The decision to cancel was a difficult one. But, we simply could not risk the health and safety of our racers, crew, staff, contractors, volunteers and those in the communities touched by RAAM.”
The following in an excerpt of the letter sent to racers:
“As you are well aware, these are extraordinary times. We have all been forced to make adjustments and sacrifices in our daily activities to reflect the seriousness of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We at RAAM must now make an important decision that we fully understand will affect thousands. On an intellectual basis that decision involves a complex blend of public health policy and risk management. On a more personal basis that decision is driven by our desire to protect the “RAAM family.” Accordingly, there is only one rational decision that is consistent with the facts, the science, the public health realities, and our overarching desire to keep RAAM and RAW participants safe – the 2020 Race Across America and Race Across the West must be cancelled.
The coronavirus pandemic has caught almost everyone off-guard. The rapid spread has begun to overload healthcare systems worldwide. Local, state and national governments have implemented a broad range of strategies to combat the spread of COVID-19 – social distancing, stay-at-home orders, quarantines. Slowing the spread of the virus has been particularly difficult as the virus can be passed on by mildly or even asymptomatic individuals.
As the COVID-19 virus spread it became clear the coronavirus pandemic would make planning exceptionally difficult for race owners/directors. The COVID-19 virus became the overriding consideration in race planning. Two important facts were required to properly plan for and hold the Races: 1) how long would the pandemic last; and 2) can the race be put on safely for everyone involved. We soon realized it would be inappropriate to be considering a bicycle race when the entire world was dealing with such a serious public health crisis.
All our efforts to understand and anticipate the pandemic and its effects to arrive at a correct decision may be moot given the restrictive actions taken by local, state and federal governments. RAAM goes through 12 states and 350 communities – there are many interested parties. On March 19th the State of California ordered nearly all residents to stay at home and limit social interaction until further notice in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The Governor further warned that unless the rise in cases of coronavirus slows, it might overwhelm the state’s medical system. In Maryland Governor Hogan has put the state under a stay-at-home directive. The directive went into effect on March 30th and is set to remain in effect “until the state of emergency is over.” The lockdown orders in both California and Maryland, as they stand, would prohibit the running of the Races. Those lockdown orders will extend past critical decision points and possibly even our anticipated start date for the Races.
Our decision to cancel the 2020 Races is consistent with the decisions made by other event sponsors and sports organizations around the world. As COVID-19 rapidly spread around the globe in recent months, tournaments, games and other sporting events have been substantially modified, postponed or canceled. The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games to 2021 was an eye opener for every event organizer. More recently, the decisions by both Ironman and the UCI reinforced our decision.
RAAM is a particularly difficult event and requires a substantial commitment of time and resources to prepare for and participate in RAAM. Racers and their support crews were coming from all over the world. The Race has a long and storied history. This year would have been the 39th consecutive year for RAAM. We explored every way we could think of to run the Races this year. But in the interest of the safety of riders, support crew members, staff, volunteers and everyone along the route, we cancelled this year’s Races.
Our hope is that you understand and support our decision. RAAM and RAW will be back next year, bigger and better than ever. In the meantime we hope you all stay safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing you at future races.”
Rick Boethling, RAAM Executive Director, was optimistic when he added, “We are disappointed that RAAM will not fill our month of June this year, but are more hopeful that everyone stays healthy during this distressing time. We are already looking forward to next year and expect 2021 to be better than ever.”
The start dates for the 2021 race will be:
Solo RAAM and all Race Across the West racers – Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Team RAAM – Saturday, June 19, 2021