City plans for in-person races this year…if COVID-19 allows

The Burton Memorial Day 5K Race usually draws more than 600 participants. File photo

The Burton Memorial Day 5K Race usually draws more than 600 participants. File photo

BURTON — Starting with the Race2Grace and Memorial Day 5K Run & Walk, the Burton Race Series will return to an in-person format after holding virtual runs for the past year, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The city held the first race in the series this year virtually with the Hot Fudge 5K Run & Walk, Feb. 20, but plans to resume live races May 15 with the Race2Grace event and May 31 with its Memorial Day race, while maintaining a virtual element in both races for those who feel safer and in case state restrictions are imposed once again.

Jim Craig, a member of the Burton Parks and Recreation Commission, said the plan is to return to a live race with the two upcoming spring races, and with the Veterans Day Race, now scheduled for Nov. 13.

Craig said there will be no volunteers on site except for a couple who will be there to help out and they will not have water stations along the route – with water bottles available at the finish line only.

“We just don’t want more people than necessary there,” he said. “We’re not going to be inside the school, only outside the school (Atherton High School), that was the permission we were given.”

He said they’ll bring their own tables to set up, all registration will be held in advance so there are no lines, and everyone will be encouraged to pick up their registration packets from Complete Runner in Grand Blanc.

Social distancing, he said, will be the key. Runners will start in waves and times will be tracked by a computer chip which record the time they cross the starting line until they reach the finish.

Craig said returning to in-person racing is something people are demanding, and it is something Complete Runner has fully researched to keep things as socially distanced and safe as is possible.

“We’ve already got a lot of people from all over asking if we’re going live, because there’s a pent-up demand for us to go live,” said Craig. “We’re going to have a pretty good turnout. We’re also cognizant that if things change that we may have to go back to virtual.”

Maintain a virtual element allows those people who don’t feel safe returning to a live race to still get credit for a race completed toward the Burton Race Series Medal (completing three of the four races).