To Hale and Back Canceled in Precautionary Response to COVID-19

The Trail Animals Running Club’s To Hale and Back 6-Hour Ultra and 5K, scheduled for March 22 at Hale Reservation, has been canceled as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19. The decision was made following discussions with the Westwood Board of Health.

The Trail Animals had spent the past few weeks planning new sanitary procedures to implement in response to COVID-19 should the race take place, Race Director Josh Katzman said.

“With the TARC schedule, To Hale and Back is our first race to try some new procedures to try to keep everyone as healthy as possible,” Katzman noted prior to the cancellation. “It’s a relatively small race, with 150 runners registered. In terms of the approach, the first and foremost thing is communicating with the town where the event is being held and the venue. As of today, our plan is to hold the race, but I am ready to defer to either of these entities (and know the venue is deferring to the town). The reason is I trust that the officials at the town will have the most accurate/up-to-date guidance from the state and/or CDC. I am not an expert in public health or disease vectors and feel this is a situation where, one, public health officials are the people to rely on; two, I don’t want to add to any panic; and three, I need to not be cavalier about the risks that this disease presents.”

Following a conversation with the Westwood Board of Health on Friday morning where the Board recommended that the race be canceled, Katzman heeded that advice. He sent an email to runners this afternoon with additional information and later expressed his disappointment in a Facebook post to the club.

“I am very sorry to have to do this, and perhaps hindsight will show this was the WRONG decision to make. However, as I wrote in the runner email, in this specific situation, at this specific time, this is the socially responsible action to take,” Katzman wrote. “For those that were registered, I hope that you find a way to make Sunday, March 22, a special day for yourselves — a lot of time, effort and energy go into preparing for runs like this, so you certainly deserve to use the time that day to do something incredible!”

The cancellation only applies to To Hale and Back. Decisions about other TARC races will be made in the days and weeks ahead as more information becomes available.

*This story was updated at 5:43 p.m.

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