Sunday, April 12, 2020

MUT 2020 Grand Prix and COVID-19: April update

No big scoop but since a few of you asked about what is going to happen with our Grand Prix in the midst of this new and global coronavirus pandemic.

Can runners spew viruses farther than 6 feet? Scientists suggest avoiding the “slipstream.”
(Picture related to a scientific study from Prof. Bert Blocken et al., Eindhoven University of Technology and KU Leuven: Towards aerodynamically equivalent COVID-19 1.5 m
social distancing for walking and running. While we are at it, and for more on running and risk of transmission, you may have a look at this interesting response (video) from Dr Bonnie Henry, from New Zealand, a country who is excelling in the pandemic control.)

A few reminders for those who may not be aware: MUT, standing for Mountain, Ultra and Trail running, is a sport category which, within our local (North Cal and Northern Nevada) USATF Pacific Association, is governed by a subcommittee of our LDR (Long Distance Running) committee.

LDR regroups three variants of running: XC (cross-country), Road (think asphalt...) and MUT. XC has its Grand Prix spanning from August through November. Road has two Grand Prix: Short (typically 1 mile to 5K) and Long (typically 10K to the Marathon distance). By the way, any PA USATF member is eligible to compete in these 4 Grand Prix.

The cancellations due to our fight against COVID-19 seriously impacted the Road Short calendar, so much that it has been decided to cancel that whole Grand Prix for 2020. The fate of the Road Long one still depends on the confirmation of a few races in June, we'll see. As for XC, hopefully we have found a way to run races again my mid August. But who knows.

What about MUT then? Let's decompose the situation into three periods: winter, spring and second half of 2020. In brackets for each, you'll see 4 numbers: / and / . As a reference, see the published schedule: (a page our Scorer and Web master, Nakia, will help keeping up to date, in addition to the updates sent by the race directors themselves).

WINTER [4/4 and 3/4]
2 races held in February (Jed Smith 50K and Mt Umunhum 14K), 2 in March (Way Too Cool 50K, Pioneer Spirit 50-mile trail USATF Nationals): 4 individual scorings, 3 team ones (as you must have heard, we dropped team scoring at Pioneer Spirit as a couple of competitive teams were concerned with peer pressure)

SPRING [1?/6 and 1?/6]
Already lost 4 races, including two sub ultra trails (including Broken Arrow 26K Nationals, which we had not managed to confirm in our GP anyway).
One of these races postponed to the Fall (Quicksilver 100K in October).
One race still undecided (Ohlone, 3rd weekend of May) - Could be cancelled, or postponed (it has happened in the past due to weather/trail conditions).

SUMMER/FALL [7/6 and 8/7]
Nothing cancelled beyond June yet.
Quicksilver added to the first weekend of October (3 back to back ultras...).
Note a delta of 1 between the individual and team scores due to double team scoring at Ruth Anderson (both 50K and 50-mile options).

Total potential: [10 or 11/16 and 11 or 12/17]


  1. Still room to hold a Grand Prix (plenty on the team side, and best 7 scores of 10 or 11events for individuals).
  2. Major pivot and decision point with TRT (coefficient 2) in July (if maintained or not).
  3. Bottom line, a lot depends on what happens after June... meanwhile the MUT Grand Prix is still on.

We could also look at adding events later in the year but, as noted in our April LDR meeting (meeting minutes to be posted soon), our LDR leadership recommends against, to avoid overlap with XC and Road Long Grand Prix in particular. The topic will be revisited again at our next LDR committee meeting, at the end of May.

If the Committee estimates that there is too much of an impact on a Grand Prix, an option is to skip a year and extend the 2019 Champion status and benefits to the following year (2021), like it will be done for Road Short for instance.

What a curved ball this microscopic virus threw at our entire humanity! Humbling and an opportunity to revisit priorities for all of us. First and foremost, let's stay safe and healthy (and alive!). Our Grand Prix competition and emulation can wait a few weeks or months, the time our health and government leaders will estimate to be necessary and safe.

PS: Googling "coronavirus running" just returned "about" 3,260,000,000 results. 3.3 billion results!!! What a hot topic... Stay home fellow runners... and keep surfing the Internet...! At a minimum, please don't boast about your outdoors achievements, really not the time to recruit more runners. Thank you.