This information is intended to provide guidance on safely operating Falmouth in the Fall as COVID cases rise and fall on Cape Cod, and other areas of the Commonwealth. We also strongly recommend that participants/runners, staff, and volunteers become vaccinated with one of the approved WHO vaccines prior to race weekend.
As vaccination rates increase across the country, eventually the likelihood of severe diseases and mortality will decline, as will the likelihood of transmission. However, during this transition period between a pandemic phase and endemic phase of the epidemic, many mitigation requirements are still required to keep participants, staff, and volunteers safe in the context of running races.
The risk of outdoor transmission has been estimated to be nearly 20 times lower than indoors and occurs so infrequently that outdoor transmission events – particularly when social distancing or using masks – is rarely described in the medical literature.
Recent reports and surveillance work has demonstrated that outdoor transmission comprises as few as 0.1% of all transmission events. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets and aerosols that are released into the air while talking, laughing, coughing, and breathing.
Indoors, these droplets remain in the air for minutes to hours. Outdoors, droplets and aerosols are dispersed rapidly, resulting in a lower risk of transmission to others. The risk of transmission at outdoor gatherings is dependent on things such as:
- The amount of time spent in close contact with others
- The number of people at the gathering, the ability to socially distance, and the use of face masks
In the context of road races and mass gatherings, mitigation measures at contact points, including registration/packet/bib pick-up, busing to start locations, start and finish lines, water points, restrooms, and all medical facilities are the most important in reducing the likelihood of a transmission event.
MITIGATION MEASURES/REQUIREMENTS AT FALMOUTH IN THE FALL
- Masks/face coverings must be used on buses or at any point where unvaccinated individuals cannot socially distance. Falmouth in the Fall (FITF) will provide all runners with an approved surgical mask for use on the buses to Woods Hole, and, if needed, upon entering the medical tent. Single-layered material such as neck gaiters, cloth masks, and bandanas do not provide sufficient protection and should be avoided.
- We will NOT require any of our participants to use a mask during the race, or on the racecourse. The World Health Organization does not recommend the use of facial coverings during vigorous exercise given that one meter (three feet) of distance is maintained. Running in groups that stick together for the race should be discouraged, if possible. In general, because of airflow and dispersion afforded by being outdoors, as well as the limited duration that any two participants spend near each other on the course, the probability of transmission during racing is strongly reduced.
- Social distancing when outdoors, one meter (three feet), should be maintained between individuals even on the racecourse.
- Medical volunteers will be provided with surgical masks and gloves. Runners, staff, or volunteers entering the medical tent will be required to wear a mask prior to entry or will not be granted.
- Sanitizing: Regarding sanitizing, COVID-19 is primarily spread through the air, but there remains a small possibility of transmitting through surface contact. Sanitizing of surfaces can reduce the small risk of transmission. It should be noted, however, the relatively minimal effect sanitizing surfaces has been shown to have epidemiologically. FITF will provide hand sanitizer at all key touch points, along with sanitizing wipes as needed.
- Bib Pick-up: FITF will not be conducting a health screening questionnaire upon arrival but reserves the right to change this mitigation plan if the COVID-19 variants become more prevalent, or if state or CDC guidelines are changed. Efforts to ensure rapid and socially distanced registration and bib pick up are encouraged.
- Busing/Transportation to Woods Hole: All runners, staff, volunteers, and drivers will be required to wear an event-provided surgical face mask prior to entering the bus. All windows on the bus will be kept open – regardless of the weather – to promote air flow. Hand sanitizer will also be available as needed.
- Starting line/Woods Hole: We strongly recommend that all unvaccinated runners continue to wear their face mask, even once they depart the bus, heading to the various corrals prior to the start line. We encourage all to pocket this face mask for reuse or discard the mask in a provided waste receptacle near the start.
- On the course: Masks are not required while running on the race course. Water station volunteers will wear gloves and utilize the “cup the cup” strategy offering cups of water with an extended arm, cup in the palm of their hands.
- Finish line and post finish area: Masks will be available, but not required. If you are unvaccinated, we suggest wearing a mask any time you are unable to socially distance.
Please do not throw the mask on any public roads, walkways, or private property.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE PANDEMIC:
A few months into our second year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is known that Data has shown that vaccinated individuals can occasionally become infected with the COVID-19 virus, but normally at levels that do not cause hospitalizations or death. Recent news from Provincetown and other parts of the country have shown higher outbreak levels not seen since earlier in the year – so this event and our leadership remains vigilant as to closely monitor the situation as it continues to evolve.
All runners, staff, volunteers, spectators, and public safety officials should remain informed and continue to make determinations regarding their involvement and personal safety. Falmouth in the Fall leadership, Board of Directors, and Medical Committee will work in cooperation with Town officials and will continue to follow the guidance as provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during this event. While we strongly encourage all participants to get vaccinated for COVID-19, having received the second shot at least two weeks prior to November 14, we know not everyone, including children under 12, have that option. For those reasons, we ask that all involved follow our mitigation plan without exception.
BASIC SCIENCE-BASED GUIDANCE FOR RACES OF ALL SIZES
First and foremost, Falmouth in the Fall will comply with all standards in accordance with CDC, state, and local public health guidance and will adjust as necessary.
It is important to note that most public health guidance is not written with outdoor races in mind. Therefore, while some local guidance may be applicable, other aspects of the guidance may be flexible when considering the type of event. Please reference: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
FITF will run a maximum field of 1,000 participants but will keep our regular allotment of staff and volunteers to support the event and its participants accordingly. Given the current status of the virus, and directives from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we will not be conducting any mandatory infectious health screening questionnaires prior to or during the day of the event.
Since it has been proven that onsite temperature screening has not been effective in detecting the virus, we will rely on all runners, staff, and volunteers to monitor their health leading up to, and on the morning of the race, November 14, 2021.
If for any reason a staff member, runner or volunteer exhibits any symptoms of illness – including a cough (dry or wet), fever, joint aches or have any unusual symptoms – please stay home and consult with your family physician.
A health screening or monitoring of your personal health is not a replacement for social distancing or mask use as directed in this document – even if vaccinated. Prudent measures are necessary to minimize risks to everyone.
Additionally, FITF expects the following:
- Inform FITF of any COVID-19 symptoms you/your family experience, or if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to November 14.
- All participants are to use face coverings, supplied by the event on runner buses. Masks are recommended at the start area if you are unvaccinated and/or unable to physically distance yourself from other participants.
- A properly worn face covering is suggested any time you enter an enclosed space (i.e. bib pick up, buses, indoor facilities.) FITF will supply masks.
- Frequent and thorough hygiene practices like hand washing and reducing or eliminating shared items such as water bottles, cups, or towels.
- Parents should be responsible for ensuring their children adhere to physical distancing, hygiene practices and use of masks, as recommended.