As the 2020 year began to take on a new feel, Lunatic Triathlon creator Scott Merrell reflected on what would be the 11th year of the event. He expressed that he was very nervous for some time that the triathlon would not take place as restrictions tightened around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Merrell had a full plate as he scheduled for one event in June and a Helper race date in August. In the spring, the news of COVID-19 spiked and Merrell’s plans changed.
“I am very thankful to all the participants who understood when I had to change race dates, cancel race dates and had to refund money. I really didn’t know what I was going to do when it came to putting down money on ordering shirt and medals, taking registrations and then waiting to see what health level we would be at the time,” Merrell stated.
Merrell remarked that it was always his hope to continue with the triathlon, though he did not wish to put on an event that put any at risk or tried to skirt the rules. At that point, Merrell reached out to the Southeast Utah Health Department as well as the Price City Desert Wave Pool for guidance and suggestions. A plan was formulated that would minimize and eliminate as many points of contact as possible for the triathlon, both at the pool and in the transition area.
“The biggest takeaway I got from the planning is that the most effective way to make these precautions work is to have people slow down and not be so rushed,” Merrell said. “That’s not ideal for a race, not impossible, but not ideal either.”
The question then arose as to how to put on an event that is a race while encouraging participants to simply enjoy themselves and not be so competitive due to the risk of violating social distancing or contacting surfaces others have.
Merrell ultimately decided that, for the first time in years, he would join in and participate in the full triathlon. He would also put out an open invitation to all of his “Lunatic Friends and Family” to join him for free this year. Merrell will rent the pool, buy glow sticks, set up the bike racing and coordinate with the Price City Police Department as well as the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office for assistance on the course.
The race is slated to be un-timed and there will be no prizes for the overall winner or for the age division winners. However, to keep the race exciting, Merrell will provide an award medal for each person that is able to beat him to the finish line. That way, Merrell expressed, there is a little something for the person that needs a little extra incentive.
A digital check-in will be featured with each participant’s own smartphone that will log each name and where they are from in order to trace the event. There will be no swag bags or shirts handed out and no race numbers written on participants’ arms. No pens or papers will be shared and there will be no paper race maps, water cups, coolers or aid stations.
Merell also stated that the triathlon previously scheduled for Jordanelle on Saturday, Aug. 8 was cancelled and he has already received a number of messages from those participants regarding visiting Price for the Lunatic Triathlon. He stated hopefully it will be a positive for the hotels and restaurants. The 2020 Lunatic Triathlon is slated for Friday, Aug. 7 and will begin promptly at 10 p.m. More information may be obtained here.
“We’ve tried to make it as contactless as possible while still giving everyone a fun and free event to participate in and really just a fun evening to let them feel like maybe things can return back to normal,” Merrell concluded. “This will be a little bit more unique Lunatic than most years, but I am hoping it is still a lot of fun.”