Coronavirus Update for 2020 GYAS Races

June 25, 2020

Good news everyone. 


We have a green light from the US Forest Service for our race permit. The BLM says they will follow the US Forest Service lead.  I will reach out to the Town of Ennis for the Water to Whiskey 5K and duathlon since on they are partially city property, but I anticipate they will accept the proposal.


I submitted a proposal that abided by the Phase Two requirements for Montana’s covid re-opening strategy.  The Madison County Health Department approved the plan.  The plan was also shared with the medical staff at the Madison Valley Medical Center, the Madison County Commission, and of course the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.  We are also able to get an insurance policy from the same insurance company from previous years, but this policy will not cover virus infections.  Basically, we’re good to go and providing there are no changes in policy between now and July 16 to 26 we will go.


However, we have had to make changes.  This email is going out to athletes who have already signed up for a GYAS race.  Over the past couple months, I have heard from many of you about requesting a refund of your entry fee, making a donation of your entry fee, and deferring to 2021.  I have all those requests documented.  Now that the races are on, I need confirmation from everyone.  You need to respond to this email or I will assume your previous request for deferral, donation, or refund is your final decision. If I haven’t heard from you and don’t hear from you, I will assume you are participating.  From this point forward, there are no refunds.  If you cannot travel or do not want to travel, you can defer to 2021.  This will open up a spot for other athletes.  I haven’t fully decided yet, but I will likely announce that the races are on as soon as possible and re-open online signup on July 1.  I need to determine how many spots are available for each race.


The races are on the same dates as before (July 16 to 26).  The times of the races are the same as well.  However, Covid-19 has required us to make several changes to comply with Montana’s Phase Two restrictions.  I will be re-writing the race package for each of the races, but here’s a summary of the changes:


  • The Madison Triathlon will be limited to 50 athletes.

  • The Madison Duathlon will be limited to 50 athletes.

  • The Madison Marathon will be limited to 50 runners for the full and 50 runners for the half and the full/half races will have staggered starting times.

  • The Big Sky Marathon will be limited to 50 runners for the full and 50 runners for the half and the full/half races will have staggered starting times.

  • The Madison River Run (Water to Whiskey) will be limited to 50 athletes.

  • The Madison Ultra will be limited to 25 runners for the Up and 25 runners for the Down.

  • The Tour de Gravelly will be limited to 50 cyclists.

  • The employee/volunteer crew will be limited to five people in five vehicles. 

  • There will be no volunteer run aid stations.  There will only be stand-alone water stops for runners along the routes.

  • Athletes will be encouraged to carry their own water bottles to fill them up at these aid stations.

  • The volunteers in the vehicles will have Gatorade, ice, and other aid just like an aid station.  They will also carry hand sanitizer and masks though the athletes won’t be asked to run with masks.

  • The awards ceremony will be very brief and people will be required to maintain social distance from each other.  Since there are only 50 people per race this should be fairly easy to do since everything will be outdoors.

  • There will be no shuttle bus for the Madison Marathon since that would mean too much time spent on the bus.  Athletes participating in the Madison Marathon must drive on their own to Clover Meadows.  Carpooling will be encouraged from Ennis.

  • Since there is no shuttle bus, the Madison Marathon route has been altered. The full and half marathon races will be out and back routes from Clover Meadows.  The full will re-trace the route back to the original starting line (run south from Clover Meadows). The half will be 6.55 miles south to a turn-around point and then finish back at Clover Meadows.

  • There will be shuttle buses for the Big Sky Marathon full and half.  The athletes will be on them for about one hour and will be required to wear masks.  If no buses are made available, then we will adjust the route to an out and back.


The number of 50 athletes is the current restriction under Phase Two.  We cannot have events of more than 50 people.  We will require social distancing at the start and finish of the races.


This email is being sent out from my business email directly to athletes from each race and race category, e.g. the Big Sky full marathoners are getting a direct email as are the Madison Half, the Tour de Gravelly cyclists, and so on.  When you respond, I will already know which race you’re signed up for based on the email, but be sure to include your name with your final decision.


Again, if I do not hear from you, I will assume you’re coming to the race or your earlier decision to defer, get a refund, or make a donation will stand.  There will be no refunds of entry fees for any reason.


Finally, I will be issuing a new waiver for the races.  I’m not a lawyer and don’t particularly like lawyers except those who are my friends, but this is something that I need to do.  Also, I will not as the race director condone cable news type of ranting and rhetoric about mask wearing, covid, or any of the politics of the sort.  These races are not the place for that kind of thing.  These races are for sharing, enjoying our public lands, being with community, and being grateful for life.


We are among the lucky ones.  We waited it out and thank you for sticking it out with us.


Stay Happy, Healthy, and Always Keep Running Forward.



Partners for 2020
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