Like most large events, the Path of the Flood Historic Races had to be canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis. Held annually on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the races consist of a 5K, 8-miler, and 14-miler and follow the path of the historic 1889 flood from the site of the dam that broke all the way to Peoples Natural Gas Park in downtown Johnstown, adjacent to the historic stone bridge. The races are presented by JAHA and the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority (CCCRA), and benefit the Cambria County Trails and the heritage of the Johnstown region.
The race committee began to meet virtually in early fall 2020 to begin tentatively planning the 2021 races, but many questions remained as the virus crisis raged through the winter. Vaccines appeared to be on the way, but would they reach enough people in time? What modifications could be made to the races to ensure safety? Would it even be possible to have the event?
As we move further into spring, there is more and more encouraging news about the virus nationally — a third, one-dose vaccine has been approved, and production and distribution of all three vaccines continues to increase. It is now projected that a vaccine will be available to all American adults significantly sooner than originally thought. And although we must remain vigilant, case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths are declining.
But even as these aspects of the pandemic that are outside our control continue to improve, the race committee is committed to taking every step possible to ensure a COVID-safe event on race day, which is May 29, 2021. Here are some of the creative ways we’ve done just that.
We’re capping the number of runners. There will be a maximum of 250 runners per distance, and we will not allow bib transfers this year.
Runners will be provided with a gaiter-style mask for use on race day when riding the bus, and at any other point when social distancing is impractical. Traditional facemasks would be difficult to deal with when running, but a gaiter-style mask can be used as a headband or worn around the neck when social distancing is possible, and during the run itself.
Cleaning procedures will be in place for the buses. Everyone will have their gaiter-style mask for the short ride up to the race’s starting line, and we’re sanitizing the buses after each trip.
Runners will start their races in staggered groups, rather than all at once. Because each racer is timed individually using timing mats and chips, there is no need for everyone to start at the same time. This step promotes social distancing.
There will be no after-race festival this year. While racers will still receive water and a commemorative medal and pint glass, we will not have a post-race festival so as to avoid congregating at the park. In addition, portable toilets will be provided rather than using the restrooms at the Oilhouse. While spectators are encouraged along the race’s path where they can socially distance, spectators will not be allowed inside Peoples Natural Gas Park.
We will still celebrate our winners. Although there will be no awards ceremony, prizes will be distributed to our winners in each race and division. Results will be posted online the afternoon of the race.
There’s still time to register — prices go up on April 1, so register today!