I’ve done a lot of interviews with race directors lately about their plans going forward and I think the most intriguing thing about returning to racing is how do they set up transition?
Your typical racks for bikes are about 10 feet long and they directors try to have you spaced about a foot apart, which would mean roughly eight bikes per rack. Social distancing guidelines from the CDC say six feet apart to do it properly. Race directors are trying to rack bikes four feet apart.
Right here I will identify two problems, with the first being “Where are you going to get all these racks?” Race directors have told me that the racks are the most expensive piece of equipment they have for race day. I know, who would’ve thought a few pieces of steel and some pins holding it together would be so costly?
A smaller race, such as Tri the Parks races, has a maximum of 400 participants. So to do the math, 400 participants at eight per rack (one foot apart) equals 50 racks. How many racks would they need at four foot spacing? 400 participants at two per rack equals 200 racks. If they were to do four foot spacing their costs for racks just quadrupled.
So now the second problem that they face: where are they going to get the real estate to put all these additional racks? The crew for Tri the Parks say at their locations that’s not going to be a problem…but what about IRONMAN?
At almost every IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 I’ve raced, the staff manages to use every possible square inch in their parking lots for transition. I cannot think of any events I’ve raced that had the luxury of tons of extra space for additional transition areas if needed, and they typically exceed 2,000 participants in their races…that’s a lot of space they’d need to find. I almost think they’d have to throw social distancing transitions spots out the window.
At the end of the day race directors have sizable problems to solve, but one thing is for certain — we can add this to the growing list of additional costs to be incurred in order to host a triathlon in the COVID-19 era.