New Normal:

Tips for a Smooth Return to Racing

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally starting to see positive news of races pop up into our Facebook feeds, email inboxes, and daily conversations! These past few weeks, we’ve seen in-person races return across the country, including the Akagi Forest Trail Race, The Peaks Round 6 Atami 2, and the Triathlon in Kawauchi.

The gradual return to racing is undoubtedly an exciting time for organizers, teams, coaches, and athletes. After spending months dutifully restricting our movements, we’re all ready to reap the rewards of indoor training, mingle with our friends, and enjoy the thrills of competition…

But the COVID-19 pandemic shows few signs of retreating and without a vaccine, a smooth return to racing requires an increased sense of vigilance and responsibility. The fact of the matter is that whether you decide to return to racing this year or the next, the conditions before, during, and after race day will be different.

Organizers are committed to helping athletes have their best race day possible. Yet, what was once the norm may no longer be applicable. Now more than ever, organizers must ensure safe environments for racing and keeping athletes well-informed about prerequisites, race-day protocol, and health safety measures.

The process to executing a successful race day also relies heavily on the participating athletes. From individual preparation to checking for updates and being considerate of others, athletes should endeavor to be a responsible and informed athlete to avoid race day surprises.

Finally, if you can’t communicate in Japanese, please consider how you can be a responsible and sensible athlete in Japan. The reality is that just because you can register, doesn’t mean you should. Ask a bilingual friend or partner to translate event communications. Be aware of the rules and operating procedures – and know they may differ from previous years. In other words, wingin’ it and hoping for the best is not advised.

Ome Trail Run participant checking in
If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask - with the appropriate face covering

All that aside, we’ve compiled some tips to make your return to racing smooth – for everyone involved:

Be Prepared

  • Read all race details and event information thoroughly before registering
  • Know what is required and recommended of athletes to keep race day running smoothly and safely
  • Know what you need for on-course nutrition and be self-sufficient whenever possible
  • Bring masks/face coverings, health check questionnaires/forms, hand sanitizer, and anything else the organizer requires or suggests

Pay Attention

  • Things can change suddenly; be alert for schedule modifications, start line changes, etc.
  • Be self-aware of your own physical condition in the week leading up to the event and the week after
  • Pay attention to instructions from officials and visual cues for physical distancing

Stay Informed

  • Read all event communications and signage – yes, all of them – as it may contain important information on new procedures and policies
  • Keep yourself updated through the relevant social media channels
  • Whether in-person or online, ask questions when you’re not sure of something

Be Caring

  • If you’re sick or feeling unwell, stay home
  • Keep your distance from others and minimize person-to-person contact – consider the safety of others and respect the host community
  • On-course, make sure others can pass you and/or those around you
Spectators should be kept to a minimum and be physically distanced