The racing season is back in the UAE. Here’s the new normal

Limited capacity, contactless support stations, and wave starts are some of the latest regulations in the sports event industry which plans to return after five months of no athletic competition. The coronavirus outbreak took the live sports industry to a complete halt in the first half of 2020. For the next few months, the sports industry is deliberately setting specific parameters. Abu Dhabi Sports Council, as part of the Abu Dhabi Sports Festival, has recently held two indoor races at the Yas Mall since the lockdown. It incorporated several different elements, including the elimination of the post-event medal ceremony, as a measure to ensure health and safety.

The Dubai Sports Council recently organized a general open zoom meeting inviting all local organizers to participate, explaining to everyone about the events and allowing the events to start again from August 2020 if certain COVID criteria had been met and implemented. “With our regular season only starting in mid-October, we’ve had enough time to get everything in place for a regular season of events to happen,” Warren Van Der Merwe, Managing Director of Super Sports Academies, told Story of Fitness.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation with Warren.

image of a triathlete running

 1) Temperature checks and sanitization in place

Upon entering the registration area, all participants will have their temperature tested. Participants will be forced to wear masks until the start of the race and immediately after the race is over. “We will be working with a sanitizing firm to provide us with all the products and services related to COVID,” Warren said.

2) Wave starts

Wave start is a method used to send people out in smaller groups (called “waves”), with a brief time gap in each group. “We have three possible starting options and are currently reviewing all the possibilities and the better start choice will be determined before the race day where can still offer a race between the runners and not just them running against the clock. The prizegiving will take place as usual and we expect just the winners to remain and to guarantee a gap of 2 m between all the runners before they are called to the podium!” said Warren

image of trail running

3) Contact less aid stations

“Aid stations will be self service out on the course with water being placed by marshalls wearing gloves and masks on to tables and as runners pass by they help themselves.” 

 4) Refund policy

So many events being cancelled last minute, many participants feel insecure about registering an event for fear of losing money as a result of further event cancellations. Talking about the refund scheme, Warren said,  “As many of our races are part of a series and in the event of a race being canceled by the Dubai Sports Council, that entry will be carried over to the next race a few weeks later. Online entry platforms also allow participants to take out race insurance for a nominal fee that in the event of them wanting a refund for whatever reason, they then receive the full refund as long as it is within the time frame allowed for them to cancel their entry.”

5) Minimum spectators – 

The organizers intend to keep the spectators to a minimum. They urged adults to come to the races alone, “But for kids, parents need to bring them there so that they can stay and watch and cheer on.”

Since Super Sports Events aren’t the first ones to be organizing a racing event post corona crisis, Warren said that they want to learn and improve from the other races that will take place before them, “Some runs have already taken place in Abu Dhabi indoors and some will happen the week before our opening race so we hope to learn from them as well and see how they are doing things and implement what we think works well or does not work and then go from there. We just want to ensure everyone feels that the measures we have put in place make them feel comfortable and safe to be out at an event again and enjoy what they do and have been training for!” 

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To register for upcoming Super Sports events, click HERE

Arti Dani
Arti Dani is a journalist by trade, a travelling runner with 5 international marathons, one ultra-marathon under her belt. 100 push-ups a day is a simple job for her, even though she's still working to perfect her headstand skills.
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