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With the announcement of Vaccinations also came plans for the return of autumn racing. And now in the fall marathon Season is here, there are a few things you should know in order to have a safe race. Mainly because the delta variant, which according to the data is more contagious, is currently the predominant variant in the US, according to the CDC. The United States reported on October 4th 698,627 deaths and 106,395 new weekly Cases that are reported on average.

And although vaccines are widely used, there are still concerns about vaccination. Therefore, it is important to pursue damage control strategies as you prepare for race day, during the trip, and on race day itself.

With racing finally returning on a grand scale in the coming months, it is understandable that more than ever you have questions about staying safe and finally being able to make good use of your training. So we typed David Nieman, Dr PH., Health Professor at Appalachian State University and Director of the Human Performance Lab at North Carolina Research Campus, Brian Labus, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Public Health, and Matt Ferrari Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology at Eberly College of Science and Researcher at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State to answer your most frequently asked questions.

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What risks do I face at travel and racing events?

before travel For a race you should take into account your own vaccination status and the health and vaccination status of the people in your household. And that can’t be emphasized enough when you test positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who tests positive (anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period, as in the CDC) you should not take part in your race.

That being said, the risks you’ll face depend on where you go, says Labus. Different locations have different rules for using masks and social distancing, different vaccination rates, and different COVID rates. International travel is even more complicated and often involves pre-entry and return home tests – even if you are vaccinated.

You can check the vaccination status of the city you are going to race on the state or local government websites. You can also use it to track the daily COVID-19 cases Johns Hopkins Data. If you’re traveling to an international race, be sure to check local guidelines for vaccinations, negative tests, and quarantine regulations.

What do I need to know to be safe when traveling to races if I am vaccinated?

Right now, especially because of the Delta variant, you still have to wear good masks – like an N-95 – and be very careful when you get into situations with large groups, especially in small indoor spaces, says Nieman – even when you are vaccinated. “Make sure you are in areas with good ventilation and stay outdoors as much as possible.”

Remember, Labus says the vaccines also do an amazing job of preventing hospitalization or death if you develop a breakthrough disease.

While there’s a good chance you won’t get very sick from exposure, it is possible that after you run, you could bring the infection home (or to work) to others. So if you have access to rapid tests, it would be a good idea to test yourself for 3 to 5 days after high-risk activities like traveling to make sure you are not putting others at risk, explains Ferrari.

What is my race doing to protect the runners?

In most cases, large marathons allow both a negative COVID-19 test and proof of vaccination. Nieman says that, especially given the Delta variant, there is a high likelihood that unvaccinated runners carry and spread the virus.

Most major breeds have a mask Requirement (remember effective masks are at least two-ply and fit your face closely) in all areas with high density, such as In addition, the races have implemented a smaller field and distributed the starting waves.

Since the races are crowded and running is not conducive to wearing a mask, according to Labus, social distancing and masking requirements cannot be used to keep you 100 percent safe. “That leaves organizers with only one option, which fortunately is the most effective way to prevent COVID – the best race organizers can do to protect runners is to vaccinate every participant,” he says.

All unvaccinated runners should keep in mind that entry will require a negative test from a health care provider carried out in the few days prior to the race. Most major marathons require either proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within a certain amount of time before the race. For example is the Boston Marathon On-site test, the New York City Marathon requires a negative test within 48 hours of the race day, and the Chicago Marathon requires a negative test within 72 hours of the race day.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has tested positive, you should contact your race for further instructions on how to postpone your entry or refund your race fee, if that’s an option.

The best way to find out details about the race you are running is to visit the race’s FAQ page. Check here for the Chicago marathon, here for the Boston Marathon and here for the New York City Marathon.

What additional precautions can I take on race day to protect myself and others?

“Masks are still the best extra layer after vaccination,” says Ferrari. So if possible, wear a mask if it gets tight at the beginning and end to help yourself and others.

And for those who haven’t been vaccinated, Labus warns that while masks can help, you will still be standing near many runners who have traveled from everywhere and you won’t be running with a mask on. “The best option is to get fully vaccinated before standing up,” says Labus.

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Are there any signs that would make it unsafe to take part in my race?

“Everyone has a different level of risk that they are willing to accept, so there is no easy answer to that. You have to look at what is happening to COVID at the time of the race and make the decision that is best for you, ”says Labus.

If you are a vaccinated senior runner (65 and older), Nieman suggests looking at the racing environment as a whole and determining how safe you feel. If you are feeling insecure, it can’t hurt to wait for the virus levels to drop.

Both Ferrari and Labus are warning you to take a look at hospital capacity as you may still need access to already overwhelmed medical services, even if unrelated to the coronavirus.

“I would worry if the hospitals in the area were completely overwhelmed with COVID patients,” says Labus. Remember: if you do hurt Will they have the capacity to take care of you during the race? Or are you just making a bad problem worse?

Digital editor
Jordan Smith is a writer and editor with over 5 years experience reporting health and fitness news and trends.

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