What To Do When A Race Is Cancelled

It’s always unfortunate and a disappointment when a race is cancelled due to inclement weather conditions. With yesterday’s announcement that the Enervon 226 in Bohol was cancelled because of the incoming super-typhoon Hagupit (Philippine name Ruby), I felt sad for everyone involved: the participants because they had prepared so many months for a race that was now not going to happen, and the organizers who had to make a difficult but in the end a correct call.

This is the second time the 226 has been cancelled because of force majeure; last year the 226 couldn’t be held due to the major earthquake that shook the Visayas region, including Bohol, and destroyed buildings and roads.

Foot races have also been cancelled here in the past, but it happens less often in running than in triathlon just because you’re safer on your own two feet than swimming in water or pedaling on a bike. However, with the predicted flash floods that could happen, a 72-kilometer ultramarathon in Samar has also been cancelled.

Often, cancellations are made quite close to the event date, and there’s a lot of grief for the participants because by then they’ve already psyched themselves up for the culmination of all their hard work training. They may have already made travel arrangements that can’t be refunded, so there’s also significant financial investment, aside from the emotional investment.

So what can you do when your “A” race is cancelled? The next few suggestions won’t do anything to ease the pain, but they may help you channel the frustration in the right direction.

In no particular order of importance:

Collect any goodie bags the organizers are giving out. The Enervon 226 organizers have announced they are still handing out the race packets in Bohol and will be mailing unclaimed ones. This year’s Ironman Lake Tahoe was cancelled (on race day, no less!) due to bush fires affecting air quality, but participants were handed their finisher medals.

Consider these exclusive souvenirs: not everyone’s going to have swag from this race! If anything, they can serve as motivation to go out and find another race.

Find another race to do. You are fit and in form. You don’t want all those months of training to go to waste, so you look at the calendar for something else to do. At this point in the year there aren’t any races left, but the National Age Group Triathlon series begins in January with an Olympic distance in Subic. Building on your huge aerobic base, you can do a lot more speed-oriented work over the holidays (just avoid gaining weight at the feasts) and turn up fast and fit in the first month of 2015.

If long distance is more your taste, there are some half distance races in February and March in Subic as well, though they are quite a long way from December — and they’re not full distance, though their toughness (especially that of Challenge Philippines half) will definitely test your fitness and determination.

If you’re willing to travel outside the country, there are full distance race options in that first quarter of the year: Challenge Wanaka in February, and Ironman New Zealand and Melbourne in March.

Granted, there is nothing that can replace doing a full ironman on home soil when it comes to ease of transportation and preparation. It really is a frustrating situation!

Try a different form of exercise. Alternatively, if all the swimming, biking, and running have grated on you and you were looking forward to getting a break after that race, feel free to give yourself that break.

Go boxing. Dance. Do yoga. Walk your dog (and just walk — no jogging or running). It’s about getting yourself mentally fresh so you’ll want to swim, bike, and run again.

Spend time with family and friends. These people have put up with your training schedule for many months. You never realize fully how much of your time has been eaten up by training. In fact, it’s almost like you’ve been away for that period of time because they will rarely if ever have seen you around. So even though your race did not go according to plan, they will expect to have you back by now, and you need to give them that time, if they are important to you.

Nobody has ever said on their deathbed: “I wish I trained more.”

Volunteer at relief operations. While it’s sad that you won’t be able to test your physical limits, when a race is cancelled due to force majeure, the reality is there are people whose lives are majorly affected by the typhoons, earthquakes, and whatever else comes under “acts of God”.

If you can, find some time to volunteer, or donate goods and items. You may even choose to do fundraisers, which is what some people did last year for the Bohol earthquake victims.

Cancelled races are never a complete waste. Remember, the race was merely the celebration at the end of a journey, and that months-long journey through blood, sweat, and tears is precious in its own right. The fact that you had the guts to sign up for it and the commitment and determination to train for it already sets you apart from so many other people who merely dream of it but don’t act on it.

Take heart; your day will certainly come.

Ironman 70.3 Cebu

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About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in wellness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

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