This information is intended to provide guidance on safely operating the Falmouth in the Fall Road Race 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 THE FALMOUTH IN THE FALL ROAD RACE
- Masks/face coverings must be used at any point where individuals cannot socially distance or are indoors. The Falmouth in the Fall Road Race will provide all runners, staff, and volunteers with an approved surgical mask for use at bib pick-up, on the buses to Woods Hole, and, if needed, upon entering any one of our medical facilities or transporting ambulances. 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 staff will be provided with and required to have surgical masks and gloves, and in some cases face shields or goggles. Runners, staff, or volunteers entering any of our medical tents will be required to wear a mask prior to entry or will not be granted entrance in those facilities. Masking will also be required for any runner needing transport to a hospital resulting from participation in the race.
- 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. Falmouth in the Fall Road Race will provide hand sanitizer at all key touch points, along with sanitizing wipes as needed.
- Registration/Bib Pick-up will be the first point of contact. Falmouth in the Fall Road Race will NOT be conducting a mandatory 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. Masks should be worn while queuing and by all staff and volunteers.
- 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 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. Masks are required in medical tents.
- Finish Line and post finish area: No gathering. The ballfield will be closed to spectators and runners per Falmouth Public Safety. Runners will receive a grab-and-go-back with snacks and water before exiting Falmouth Heights by designated routes.
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. The Falmouth in the Fall Road Race 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, the Falmouth in the Fall Road Race 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
Falmouth in the Fall 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.
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.
Additionally, Falmouth in the Fall Road Race expects the following:
- All participants are to use face coverings, supplied by the event, at bib pick-up and on runner buses. Masks are recommended at the start area if you are unvaccinated and/or unable to physically distance yourself from other participants.
- Be mindful of the physical distance (greater than 6 feet) from people you may wish to maintain who are not part of your household or with whom you did not travel (your travel unit).
- A properly worn face covering will be required any time you enter an enclosed space (i.e. bib pick up, buses, indoor facilities, and medical tents.) Falmouth in the Fall will supply masks in areas where required.
- 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.