You trained for months. Literally, three months — running through all the temptations brought on by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Holiday and New Year celebrations.
You stayed focused on your miles, nutrition and sleep. You followed your training plan, and logged those long runs, speed drills and hill workouts.
Last weekend, you dominated a long run. Mentally and physically you're ready to set a new personal record in a half marathon.
And then, weather.
Mother Nature decided your race wasn't going to happen. (Insert thunderstorms, wind, lightning, tornado, blizzard, flood or fire.) Now what?
What Are You Supposed to Do?
Take a Beat
Give yourself a time to digest the info. This is frustrating news on many levels. A cancelled race is especially difficult if you traveled to the race and have the added expense of plane tickets and a hotel stay. There's no doubt that you're going to be upset about all the time, effort and money you've invested.
Go ahead and be mad or sad, but, be mature about it. Just remember, the race director didn’t want to cancel the race. The director probably put as much time and effort into producing the race as you did training for it. Often, it's local law enforcement agencies that decide to cancel to protect everyone's safety.
There’s no need to post snide remarks or complaints to a Facebook page, website, or review site. The race was cancelled for safety reasons, not to ruin your day. Focus on moving past the disappointment.
Review Your Options
If you didn’t read the cancellation policy before the race, read it now. Find out if you registered early enough for a refund. Every race has different policies. Some races don't allow refunds of any kind. If your race won't refund your registration fee, do you have another option?
Typical resolutions when a race is cancelled:
• Race is rescheduled for another date.
• All runners switch to a virtual race.
• Runners defer their entry to the next year.
• Runners have the option to run a different race.
• Partial or full refund is given.
• No refund or other options.
Some race directors offer a virtual race, deferment to another year, transfer to another race, or reschedule the event when it’s cancelled. Sometimes, you have to write it off as a loss.
Run Your Own Race
Earlier this month, severe weather forced Walt Disney World (WDW) to cancel a half marathon hours before the race. All the registered runners were allowed to transfer to another WDW race anytime in the next 24 months. Interestingly, some runners decided to go ahead and run 13.1 miles around Downtown Disney on their own when the weather cleared later in the day.
Another option is to sign up for the next available race for the thrill of a timed race and finish line. Don’t let all that training go to waste! You’re ready to run, so run.
The process of training for a long distance race makes you a winner. If you can’t find another half marathon nearby, try shorter distances until one comes along. Keep setting goals and doing the work.
There are lots of reasons to keep running that don’t involve a medal memento.
It's Probably Going to Happen Again
In four years and 32 races, I've had two half marathons, and two 5Ks cancelled. One race was nixed due to weather, but the other three didn't take place due to organizational problems. I received a full refund twice.
Read the Cancellation Policy First
The best advice is to read the cancellation policy, and decide if it's acceptable, before you register. Then, prepare a Plan B, just in case Mother Nature decides to interfere.
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