SAN DIEGO — As more industries in California are starting to open up, there's one that has yet to be given the green light — endurance sporting events, such as marathons and triathlons.
According to the California Coalition of Endurance Sports, 42 other states have been able to hold races.
In California, they’ve all been virtual.
"What's crazy to think is running events have become packing shirts, shipping metals to athletes who really want to be outside with their friends at events," Jamie Monroe, founder of Easy Day Sports, said.
Easy Day Sports is a San Diego company that specializes in planning 5K races, marathons and triathlons, all of which are considered mass gatherings, which are currently banned in California.
While other sectors like youth and professional sports have opened up, Monroe said there's no specific guidelines in place allowing for endurance sporting events to resume.
He's part of the California Coalition of Endurance Sports, which is hoping to change that.
"We're asking the state legislators trust us. We're operations professionals, event planners. If anyone can abide by state guidelines, it's us," Monroe said.
So far, an online petition has gathered more than 9,000 signatures.
The coalition recently pleaded its case before the State Assembly, suggesting mitigation strategies like fewer participants, scattered start times, temperature checks and masks when not racing.
Monroe argues if other states can do it, we can too.
Bob Babbitt, a coalition member in the Ironman and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame, agrees.
"You're outdoors, you're socially distanced, you're following protocol," Babbitt said.
According to Babbitt, the current ban isn't just impacting athletes.
Charities statewide are losing out on $70 million in annual race-generated donations.
On top of that, race directors are leaving the industry to look for other jobs.
“These race directors are left out to dry right now....two years without a paycheck," Babbitt said.
At this point, local event organizers are planning future in-person races.
But, that takes months to do, and without the state's permission, nothing is guaranteed.
"If you tell a restaurant owner he can open up next week, he can open up next week. You tell a race director he can open up, he needs a six to nine-month window," Babbitt said.
“We're looking for a path forward,” Monroe said.
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