COVID-19 Response May 2020

Social Distance Racing 2020 – new race format trial run May 9.
Lindsay Newell & Lance South set off at their scheduled time for the By Appointment 5k.

On Saturday, May 9th 2020, Virginia Tidewater Trailrunners (VTTR) running club hosted a 5k race at Williams Wharf in Mathews County, Virginia. That statement would not be particularly noteworthy except for the fact that it was the first non-virtual running event held in the area since the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020. The format of the event was designed with participant, spectator, and race personnel safety at the forefront: start times were set in advance and staggered 5 minutes apart (exceptions were made if participants were from the same household).

View Results

Zach Gibbs crosses the finish line of the By Appointment 5k with a time of 22:23.8.

Good news: this new format for the inaugural “By Appointment 5k” was a success. All participants adhered to the strict social distance guidelines and the handful of spectators present remained in or near their vehicles. What else was different?

  • No frills event: unlike other races, under this Social Distance race format, there was no water provided to participants before, during, or after the race. Participants brought their own.
  • Advanced registration: due to the logistics of scheduling race appointments per person, participants needed to sign up in advance on the Sunday before the event. Appointment times were communicated out on Monday.
  • No Cash & No Race Bibs: only online payments were accepted and race bibs were not used, ensuring a “touch free” race experience.
  • Awards & Giveaways: because all participants were not present at the same time, we skipped the post-race festivities (thus further eliminating the need for direct person-to-person contact).
  • Low Cost: all the amenities that were given up with this new format did come with a small silver lining – a very reasonable $12.50 registration cost.

We are still collecting feedback from our first set of “By Appointment” participants, so there may be more “tweaks” to the final format/logistics of these events. Based on the success of this first Social Distance race, keep on the lookout for similar ones in the future.

Taking the “no touch” concept to the next level, Tracey Tunstall races without appearing to touch the ground, and sets a new personal best (25:48.9) in the process.

If you’re interested in hosting a Social Distance Race and would like to get tips-and-tricks on how VTTR managed the format & logistics, feel free to reach out the By Appointment Race Director (

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