Next year's Ottawa Race Weekend will be virtual again due to COVID-19

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Ottawa Race Weekend will be virtual again next year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said Thursday.

The in-person, annual event which attracts tens of thousands of runners to the city was cancelled for the first time in its 45 year history in 2020. Runners were invited to "wear e-bibs" and complete events between May 15 and Sept. 7 in their home communities by logging their races online.

In 2021, participants will have fewer days to complete their races, said Ian Fraser, director of Run Ottawa, which puts on the event.

"We want to make it a little more ceremonial around our traditional dates at the end of May," Fraser said

Should the COVID-19 situation change drastically before race weekend, they can pivot to have a live event, he said.

"We wanted to provide clarity and honesty in the direction that the pandemic was going," said Fraser.

"Most of us were not allowed to gather with our families at Thanksgiving [and we] probably [won't] be allowed to eat out with families at Christmas. I'm not sure how you make that leap to thinking that you're going to go ahead and toe the line with 35,000 of your best friends in May."

Olivia Chandler/CBC
Olivia Chandler/CBC

There were no refunds of race fees for the 2020 event, instead athletes were offered a 50 per cent discount on 2021 fees. That discount will now hold until 2023 and runners can use it for any event.

Fraser wouldn't confirm if this year's race fees will be less expensive, but he said he thinks people "will be quite pleased" when the fees are announced.

More information, including registration dates, will be announced in mid-November.