Subject: Zumbro Volunteer Communication 1 2021
A long email, but an important read since you are volunteering, thanks in advance!
You are the best of the best, each and every last one of you. The ownership that so many of you take year after year, but especially this year, it continues to astound me. After all the stressors that Zumbro has endured over the past number of years, getting back and trying again just simply would not be possible without your individual contributions. FYI, I did try to get the date moved a week later (once again) and was not granted permission due to the opening of the turkey hunting season.
It feels pretty uncomfortable for this paranoid pre-planner to be getting my first real volunteer communication out to you just over one week out from the event – this a function of not being able to apply for our permit until we were within 60 days due to new DNR guidelines, some additional time to get the approval, and then a cascading number of tasks that I had to quickly perform thereafter, all under the premise of an entirely new framework for how we conduct an event. It has been a whirlwind to say the least, so thank you for your patience.
Before I dive in, I wanted to take a moment to comment on why I think it is important to be moving forward with our first event in the Covid era, and why now – decisions I did not make lightly. We are in the early days of the recovery, and it is just that, a recovery – it is going to be a process. Recovery is something that happens over a period of time – it means that things are not just going to snap back to normal all at once. We don’t just go from where we have been with all of its associated trauma, to ‘recovered’ – there is going to be an in-between time. Anything that truly resembles normal, well that is a long long ways off. Adjust and adapt; respectfully, safely and intelligently – create systems and protocols for safely holding events, that is the task at hand and it is what we are all tasked with at this first RSR event back, I don’t want to put undue pressure on anyone, but the stakes are high. Running, races, events – they are obviously not the most important things in the world, but just think of the impact that they have had on you in your life – the world still needs it, in some ways maybe more than ever in the years to come. I think mostly we are going to have a really fun, light-hearted and extremely low key event (I still don’t think volunteers and runners alike realize how low key it will be), but I also want you all to realize and grasp the great opportunity and the great responsibility that this team has before it, to usher in what are going to be many new norms for our local running scene for the foreseeable future. I have all the confidence in the world in all of you, as the ones who will shepherd in this new age.
I have made volunteer assignments – I think these are looking pretty final, but as always I did take a few liberties, made some assumptions, (and I am sure a few mistakes), so please make sure to let me know if something does not work for you. An important note and a note that kills me having to deliver… for the first time EVER, I am having to turn away volunteers. Never in a million years, under normal circumstances would I do this, even if we were sitting good, we would absorb, welcome and make good use of anyone and everyone that would like to help – the reason is, volunteers are the unequivocal lifeblood of our events. I had to prioritize anyone that could be available all four days (to cut down on the total number of individual volunteers helping with the event), those who have received either one or two doses of the vaccine and then those who are already in one-and-others bubbles. The safest way to do this year’s event is with the least number of volunteers possible. Normally Zumbro needs in excess of 200 volunteers each day – this year we will do it with less than 60 total, and no more than 25 or 30 each day. So, if you are receiving this email, and there is an ‘Unassigned’ next to your name , we don’t need your help THIS time, but please please know, we NEED you in the future, we cannot survive in the years to come without you. https://www.zumbroendurancerun.com/volunteer-assignments/
A number important notes to those of you that are working the race.
• It is very important that you read THIS https://www.zumbroendurancerun.com/zumbro-2021/ in its entirety, it is a long read, but as volunteers / staff working the race, these are things everyone needs to know.
• Please note that volunteers will be required to wear masks and maintain physical distance (aside from those situations that require you to work more closely with other volunteers during your shift). These are going to be long days, so I encourage you to find moments and situations where you can go back to your vehicle or camp, step away, go for a walk etc. and remove your mask to get some fresh air. In the evenings after racers have departed, when we are not “working” in close quarters, and are obviously all still outdoors and distanced, this would also be a time where it would be reasonable to not be masked at all times.
• Generally the mission over the four days is to provide a broad safety net for runners who will be starting, running and finishing their races, in many ways on their own (and from what I can tell from the signups, in many cases with a close friend or family member.) I cannot stress enough how low-key the production of this event is going to be compared to normal. If you are working the start / finish, you are only there to observe, answer runners’ questions and provide direction (regarding not entering / loitering in the start area too early and not sticking around in the finish area too long after they finish). We will have ample new signage that will do a lot of the heavy lifting in this department. If you are working a water stop, the job is to make sure that hand sanitizer is full / functioning, water jugs are full, answer questions and to head out on to the trail if needed to address any issues with a runner, course markings etc. I have attached a diagram showing the layout for the water stops. Remember, these are water only, no food – runners will be expected to carry what they need. A final note about the water stops, we will likely be beta testing some hands free / foot-switch controlled water jugs at each stop. Either myself or a fella by the name of Craig (a childhood friend of mine and who has been around the races in the past) will come out and see you to provide some instruction on how they function, switching out jugs, etc. As long as there are a couple of you at any location and the position is covered, I encourage you to get out for a hike or a run, take breaks etc.
• For those working Aid Station 1 / Rescue Point E, the road into there is Minimum Maintenance and a vehicle with just a little bit of clearance would be good – if you do not have that, we will make a plan to get you in there, note there are no amenities or facilities at this site (we will have one popup for shelter for you if raining). For Aid Station / 2 Central Assembly, you can get in there with a car no problem, but it is also minimum maintenance so just go slow – Central is a full fledged rustic campground with a pavilion, camp sites, vault toilets, a well, etc. HERE is a Google Streetview of what it looks like. As always, pack, plan and prepare similar to a camping trip (warm clothes, rain gear, snacks, a chair, etc.).
• Communications. We will have HAM Radio Communications at the Start / Finish, Aid Station 1 Rescue Point E and Aid Station 2 Central Assembly. There is no cell coverage at the Start / Finish or Aid Station 2 Central. There is cell coverage at Aid Station 1 Rescue Point E. There is cell coverage at most high points / on the tops of most bluffs but never in the valleys. Any emergencies, call for resupply on water, etc. use the HAM radio operator at your location. If we have a DNF that needs transport, either myself or Bob Marsh will transport – I being the RD will be the one to incur that risk and will take necessary precautions (masked of course, windows down, etc.) Bob Marsh is a medical professional who is fully vaccinated and well versed in the proper protocols.
• We will not be able to provide any food or beverages for volunteers as has been available in years past – be sure to pack what you need
• If you are camping, the race will cover your camping fees, if you insist on paying for your own, please just let me know so I don’t overpay on fees. It is self-registration at the Kiosk(s) and $16 per night.
If the days / times assigned don’t work for you or if you can no longer make it, please let me know ASAP since we do not have much redundancy built into many of the positions, again, this in order to keep the numbers down.
As mentioned previously, these are entirely new / reimagined events, so while I think I have covered most everything here and in our larger Covid Plan, I could be forgetting something and may be back in touch with additional information and / or feel free to reach out with any questions on anything that you feel I have not addressed.