News28 Apr 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 23-28 April


A jogger on a solo run (© Getty Images)

Here we continue to share stories and updates about how the athletics world is adjusting to and coping with the spread of Covid-19.

If you're an athlete, race organiser or manager with a story to tell, please get in touch so we can share your story, too.

Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April
4-8 April
9-12 April
13-17 April
18-22 April

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

Tuesday 28 April 


Nothing is off the table for rescheduled major marathons

15:15 - 28 April
London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher has explained how he, along with other organisers of World Marathon Majors races, is still looking into possible scenarios for their rescheduled events.

"We are looking at so many different scenarios and those scenarios have probably quadrupled in the last 48 hours," he said in an interview with Athletics Weekly. "Collectively we (the World Marathon Majors organisers) swap ideas. I chucked one in that we had that pretty well blew a few people’s minds. We have got a meeting next week where we’re swapping learnings from each other. There are so many scenarios and, in reality, nothing is off the table.

"We have to look at this holistically for society. It is far bigger than just saying, ‘What is right for the Virgin Money London Marathon?’ This is about what is right for society and that is a really important part of the decision-making process. The reality of social distancing, that plays an enormous part of it. There are so many scenarios that we will play around with and you have to keep evolving them as scientific advice comes forward, as the weeks go by.

"At this stage it is not possible to say what we are doing. We know what we want to do but we just don’t know the reality of the world that will be in existence on October 4.”

Full article


Don't fear fellow exercisers

13:15 - 28 April
Belgian and Dutch engineers published some findings earlier this month on how droplets can spread when exercising. They concluded that people needed to stay 16 feet behind someone who’s walking, 33 feet behind someone who’s running or biking slowly, and 65 feet behind someone who’s biking hard.

Their findings gained much traction online and lots of people panicked. But despite being presented as a 'study', their research contained no input from epidemiologists or virologists and was not peer-reviewed.

"I think we should be very careful with making assumptions about transmission based on that ‘study’, since it didn’t account for any variables related to transmissibility," said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University. "It’s important to understand that infections are started with a minimum infectious dose of virus."

This article on contains input from various virologists and pathologists, and concludes that you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists.


World Athletics creates fund to support athletes during the pandemic

12:15 - 28 April
World Athletics, together with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), has today launched a US$500,000 fund to support professional athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who also chairs the IAF, said the fund would be used to assist athletes who have lost most of their income in the last few months due to the suspension of international competition while the world combats the global health emergency.

Full press release


Monday 27 April 


Safrankova on mask sewing and free range hammer throwing

18:15 - 27 April
Speaking of Czech athletes... hammer thrower Katerina Safrankova has kept busy during lockdown, training and throwing in wide open fields outside of her hometown of Kolin, spinning on walking paths (with a broom, not the actual hammer) and sewing hundreds of masks. Nearly 700 to be (nearly) exact.

"When the situation started the sewing kept my spirits high," the national record holder said. "I helped people so had the motivation to sew as many masks as possible."

As to her free range hammer throwing, she assures us that nobody was around.

"We were really taking care about no people being around so that no accidents could happen. My coach kept a close watch to make sure nobody was walking around."

More on where you can also see her broom-spinning technique.


Pickering on post-lockdown leg injuries

16:05 - 27 April
Or more specifically, on how athletes can prevent post-lockdown leg injuries.

Craig Pickering, the former British international who raced to world 4x100m relay bronze in 2007 and now works as the Athlete Pathways Manager for Athletics Australia, spent some time looking at a 2011 study on the impact that the NFL lockout had on player injuries that year to see what athletes might be looking at when the current lockdowns around the world come to an end.

After that four-and-a-half-month lockout, players had just a 17-day training camp prior to the start of their season, rather than the usual 14-week prep period.

Pickering points out:

As the study outlines, this had some disastrous consequences. Focusing on Achilles tendon injuries, the authors report that, in the previous 20 seasons, there was an average of 4 such injuries requiring surgical intervention, and in the 2010-2011 season, the season directly preceding the lockout, there were 10 Achilles tendon ruptures. Conversely, in 2011, there were 10 Achilles injuries in just the first 12 days of training camp, with two more occurring in the following 17 days, for a total of 12 ruptures in a month – a four-fold increase in the average number of Achilles ruptures per season.


Why did this happen? Well, we know that the sensible accumulation of training loads is protective against injury, and too little training (caused by the lockout) and too much training (caused by trying to fit in work to the shortened training camp) increase the risk of injury – exactly what happened here. Overall, this is a potentially chilling warning; following periods of relative inactivity, if the transition to full training and competition is not adequately managed, then there is a substantially increased risk of injury.

But, Pickering said, there is some reasons to be cheerful.

Read the rest.


Czech athletics 'back on the track' with series of meetings to begin in June

15:00 - 27 April
The Czech Athletics Federation announced that it will be 'back on the track' with a six-meeting series to launch in June.

The Czech government's plan to ease restrictions imposed to control the new coronavirus pandemic will open 100 stadiums across the country to athletes from 1 June. That, coupled with the decision to allow public gatherings of up to 50 people from 25 May, has allowed the national governing body to organise a series of six "micro-meetings". The first, set for Sletiště stadium in Kladno on 1 June, will officially kick off the season and will be broadcast live by the Czech national broadcaster CT.

Programmes and details are are still being confirmed, but the Kladno meeting's timetable will include a women's javelin, men's shot put and men's 300m. Czech stars Barbora Spotakova, Tomas Stanek and Pavel Maslak have already confirmed their participation - and they can't wait.

"I'm really looking forward to the first competition, even if it is in a limited mode," said Spotakova, the twice Olympic and three-time world champion in the javelin throw.

"I'm glad we will be together with many other athletes throughout the Czech Republic at the start of the season, although more or less symbolically, from a distance.”



SI Daily Cover: The Penn Relays

11:35 - 27 April
On Friday (24), Sports Illustrated featured the Penn Relays on its daily cover because for the first time in its 125-year history, the event did not take place this year. What two world wars couldn't stop, the fight against the new coronavirus did.

SI's video report is here.


Bekele offers hotel for coronavirus patients

10:30 - 27 April
Eager to chip in to Ethiopia's fight against the spread of the new coronavirus, Kenenisa Bekele has made his hotel on the outskirts of Addis Ababa available for Covid-19 patients.

In an interview with BBC Sport Africa, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and 5000/10,000m world record-holder said:

"My family and I are in a position to help. We have to take responsibility.

"I worry about the future. I worry about the famine that follows. We are in a lockdown in Ethiopia, but staying inside is a luxury that many cannot afford."

In the meantime, he's still training, putting in 20-25km runs each morning in a forest near his home and more cross training indoors, eying the London Marathon which has been rescheduled for 4 October.

"Running is my life and it gave me already so much. I am not done yet for sure. I learned to be patient, because in my career I had periods with severe injury problems. From my humble background, I learned to overcome hardship. I never give up."



Sunday 26 April 


Despite financial challenges, Eaton still has the fire

17:00 - 26 April
At 30, sprint hurdler Jarrett Eaton has been around the sport long enough to have lived many of its ups, and most of its downs. He seriously considered quitting twice, he says in this interview with Track & Field News, but the fire that still burns in his belly has kept the 2018 world indoor silver medallist going.

Even this year, when the entire season has been virtually wiped out by the coronavirus, and with it, most opportunities for the unsponsored athlete to earn his living.

The ongoing cancellation of this outdoor season, says Eaton, “Definitely puts a monkey wrench into things.” He had his finances planned around earning some money from racing. “I really wasn’t planning on not having income for the entire summer. It’s kind of hard to get a job right now with everything kind of shutting down. I definitely need to be getting a job in the summer and save up so that I can focus on track.”

He laughs when he notes the financial disparities he sees in the track world. “It’s weird to watch other athletes build their own home gyms in their garages and their houses that they own, and I’m trying to get by in a swimming pool and a grass field at my apartment complex. It seems like a disadvantage, but it’s something that I’m used to. It’s something that I know I’m going to have to overcome. It just comes with the territory."

That said, he's appreciative of the extra year of prep towards Tokyo that the coronavirus pandemic has given him and new coach Tim O'Neil to continue to work.

Having it all pushed back means that I have more time with my coach and more time under his system and that’s a good thing.”

Read the rest.


Coe's 2.6 Challenge continues..

14:05 - 26 April
And, the World Athletics President admits, yesterday's press ups were the toughest so far.

Coe is fundraising for Greenhouse Sports, an organisation that uses sports coaching and mentoring to empower young people who are facing disadvantage.


Olympic hopeful Eleanor Davis puts Tokyo ambition on hold to save lives

12:30 - 26 April
British marathoner and doctor Eleanor Davis was planning to run the London Marathon this morning. Instead she'll be spending the day saving lives at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport.

“It’s gutting that the race has been cancelled,” Davis told The Guardian. “But there are more important things going on.”

In December, the 31-year-old put years of injury niggles behind her by running a 2hr 33min marathon in Valencia – putting her in the UK’s top 10 last year – and believed she was on course to go under 2:30 in London. That would have given her a live shot at securing one of the three places for Tokyo. But when the virus spread, she volunteered for extra shifts and put her ambitions on hold.

“I’m working more hours than I normally would, mainly on the coronavirus wards,” she says. “It’s been difficult. I have seen some heartbreaking days, but there are also some uplifting moments as well. There are also some difficult phone calls you have to make. But for every difficult phone call there is a nice one when I am ringing to say the patient is getting better and we are hoping to discharge in a few days. I have also seen some care and compassion that I will take with me for the rest of my career, so it’s not all bad."

Read the rest.


Have we seen a Lockdown 400m hurdles yet?

10:20 - 26 April
I don't think so either. So British hurdler James Webster has us covered. (He had me worried during his approach to a couple of those park bench barriers.)


Saturday 25 April 


Creativity needed when athletics returns, says Hermens

23:10 - 25 April
Former athlete turned sports manager Jos Hermens is hopeful that athletics will be back on track in time to allow an autumn road racing season but believes creativity could be necessary if that is to become a reality.

In an interview with Athletics Weekly, the Dutch Olympian voiced some ideas that he feels might help speed up a racing return.

Jos Hermens

"Can you have a marathon but maybe only with local runners?," he said. "You could also think about a marathon only for elites or people in certain groups. You could think about maybe for the top athletes, to make a kind of time trial – every athlete starting half a minute or a minute behind each other and they can only pass each other, they cannot stay together. If somebody passes you, you have to let them pass.

"We have to be creative. If it comes down that not everybody can run, we have to be creative."

Full article


Wlodarczyk postpones retirement plans

20:30 - 25 April
Double Olympic hammer champion Anita Wlodarczyk was unable to defend her world title in Doha last year as she underwent surgery to address a lingering knee problem.

The Pole had originally planned to retire after the 2020 Olympic Games, but after undergoing surgery she decided that she would continue until the World Athletics Championships in Eugene – which now means extending her career until 2022.

“I’m focused on getting 100% healthy, I’m not thinking about competitions yet,” she said in an interview with Przeglad Sportowy. “Two years ago I planned to finish after Tokyo. Then I underwent surgery, so I decided that I would continue until 2021, maybe 2022. That’s my plan, and we'll see what comes out of it. It would be nice to finish my career at the World Championships in Eugene.”

The world record-holder and four-time world champion has been keeping herself busy in lockdown.

“I’ve been training every day on a stationary bike,” added Wlodarczyk, who is currently in the midst of finding a new coach. “I’ve also been rehabilitating myself and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I can't get into movies or TV series; I prefer books. I read to myself, but also via the internet to children at an oncology hospital.”

Full article

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The Bannister Mile Time Trial

16:25 - 25 April
Almost 66 years have passed since Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile.

In recent years, the anniversaries of his achievement have been marked with a competition at Iffley Road Stadium - venue of Bannister's record-breaking feat - where a series of mile races are held. But this year the race has switched to a virtual one.

Roger Bannister

Keen to become a productive force for the collective social good, the British Milers Club are inviting runners to run (and record and submit) a mile between 4-6 May. It's free to enter, but entries are limited to 1609 runners.

More information can be found on the BMC website.


Pandemic leads to an unlikely running boom

13:15 - 25 April
Chicago, like many cities around the world, is experiencing a running boom.

In uncertain times and with access to gyms restricted, people are heading out the door to burn calories and stress.

“When the economy is challenged, more people run because it’s affordable. People who can’t go to the local gym have taken up running,” said Chicago Area Running Association Executive Director Greg Hipp.

"I’m not a runner," said Manya Gupta, a physician at the Rush University Medical Center. "I hate running.” But the stress of treating coronavirus patients became too much, and she needed a way to cope, so she laced up.

"I decided to go for a run one day last month and it felt really good. It was crazy."

Full article


Friday 24 April 


Drake Relays Q&A tonight

17:15 - 24 April
Via the relays' Instagram page, an excellent line-up that includes world champions, Olympic champions and world record holders:


Coe joins 2.6 Challenge

13:40 - 24 April
How is World Athletics President Sebastian Coe spending some of his time between remote meetings and calls? These days, by participating in the 2.6 Challenge, taking on different exercise challenges over the next 5 days - all based around numbers 2 and 6.⁣

The campaign was created by a group of the country’s biggest mass participation sport events who are coming together with the aim of helping save the UK’s charities facing an estimated £4 billion shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coe, who is fundraising for Greenhouse Sports, an organisation that uses sports coaching and mentoring to empower young people who are facing disadvantage, began on Wednesday with 26x sets of 26 crunches, and continued yesterday with a 26km bike ride.

Today he'll spend two hours and six minutes on a treadmill, tomorrow he'll do 26 sets of 26 press-ups and conclude on Sunday with 26 shuttle runs.


Decathlon in a room.

11:15 - 24 April
By day, Simone Cairoli is one of Italy's best-ever decathletes. By night, or during lockdown anyway, he's apparently an aspiring stop motion filmmaker.

The project's title says it all. Most probably the best short film you'll watch today.


European Athletics Championships cancelled

9:30 - 24 April
European Athletics announced last night that the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships, scheduled for 25-30 August in Paris and the last major championships remaining on the global calendar, have been cancelled.

The EA statement in full:

European Athletics today announces that the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships, scheduled to take place at the Charlety Stadium from 25-30 August, have been cancelled.

The decision to cancel the championships was taken today by Paris 2020 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Fédération Française d'Athlétisme (FFA) at an extraordinary LOC Executive Committee meeting.

This was held following an earlier meeting between the relevant French authorities. European Athletics and the Paris 2020 LOC had been evaluating all possible options for holding the championships this year as planned following a feasibility study relating to the current situation.

European Athletics, and all other relevant parties involved in the project, were subsequently informed of the decision to cancel the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships.

The decision to cancel was driven by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the associated risks linked to the current situation, which are far from being under control, as well as the existing ban on mass gatherings in France.

An evaluation made by the FFA Medical Commission was also taken into account when considering all the potential risks for spectators and accredited persons who would attend the championships. The commission’s unfavourable opinion on this issue, delivered this week, was duly taken into account by the Paris 2020 LOC and the FFA at their meeting.

Commenting on the cancellation of the European Athletics Championships, European Athletics Interim President, Dobromir Karamarinov said: “It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships. We had hoped in these troubled times to offer European athletes a major event to aim for at the end of this summer. Unfortunately, today we were informed by the LOC and French athletics federation that, after discussions with the relevant French national and local public health and safety authorities, they were no longer able to proceed with delivering the championships this August and were forced to cancel the event.

“Whilst we regret announcing the cancellation of our European Athletics Championships, it is worth reiterating that in these unprecedented times the health and safety of all athletics’ stakeholders including athletes, fans, officials, partners and everyone connected with the sport is paramount. We will always do what is best for the members of our athletics family and the wider public.”

The European Athletics Council will discuss this issue, together with other changes to the global athletics calendar that have been forced upon the sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at their next meeting which is scheduled to take place via video conference on 7-8 May.


Thursday 23 April 


'Oh no, I spelled it wrong': Nurse runs solo marathon in shape of 'Boston Strog'

18:15 - 23 April
Lindsay Devers meant well.

As the CBC reports:

It took Lindsay Devers months of training and meticulous planning to plot out her marathon-length run along the Boston riverside to spell out an inspirational message for her city.

But in the end, she forgot one important thing — the letter N.

"I even sent a screenshot to my six friends before and one of my marathon coaches saying, 'Hey, I'm thinking of doing this route. Can you read what this says?'" Devers told As It Happens host Carol Off.

None noticed the typo. She didn't either - until she was nearly done.

Read the rest.


In Germany, throwers back in action

15:15 - 23 April
At least on the throwing runways and circles anyway. 

Below, reigning European javelin throw silver medallist and 90-metre club member Andreas Hofmann cuts a ceremonial ribbon on Wednesday that signalled the re-opening of the javelin runway at the MTG Stadium in Mannheim.

View this post on Instagram

The throwing area is reopened 🚧✂️🚧 #throwingarea #reopened #backonthetrack #trackandfield #javelinthrow #mtgmannheim #happy #greatday

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Wanda Diamond League postpones meetings in June, Oslo announces 'Impossible Games' exhibition event

13:50 - 23 April
The Wanda Diamond League today suspended a further two meetings in June as it continues to adapt the 2020 season calendar in the face of the coronavirus crisis, while Oslo’s Bislett Games are to be staged in an alternative format.

In recent weeks, the Wanda Diamond League has been forced to suspend a number of its early-season meetings as a result of health and logistical concerns brought about by the global coronavirus crisis.

Today the series announced the postponement of further meetings in Eugene (scheduled for 7 June) and Paris (13 June).

As with previous suspensions, this decision was reached in close consultation with all relevant parties and based on concerns over athlete safety as well as widespread travel restrictions which make it impossible to stage the competitions as planned.

Meanwhile, the Bislett Games also announced plans to host an alternative athletics competition, an exhibition event dubbed 'The Impossible Games', on 11 June, the original date of this year’s Oslo Diamond League meeting.

The concept will see a number of world-class athletes take part in a one-off showpiece event in full observation of Norway’s coronavirus regulations and social distancing rules.



Organisers of Prague's Odlozil Memorial planning to stage meeting on 8 June

12:15 - 23 April
That's the annual competition's scheduled date, which coincides with the easing of the Czech Republic's restrictions on public events which would allow up to 50 people to participate in the meeting. As such, organisers are planning a programme to fit that limit.

Details are still being finalised but both men's and women's javelin throw and 1500m competitions, the distance over which Jozef Odlozil won Olympic silver in 1964, are expected on the programme. Given travel restrictions that are in place in much of the world, the competition will be open to Czech athletes only.

To ensure that the limits are strictly adhered to, organisers said that judges would be kept isolated in a booth off the field of play and that the programme would be designed in a way to keep the number of athletes on the track and infield to a minimum.

"We count six competitors in technical disciplines, with eight racers in the track," Meeting Director Miroslav Ševčík said. "That's 36 competitors. We estimate that they will leave the stadium immediately after the race, so there should never be 50 people there."

More in


Looking for a workout with your kids today?

10:00 - 23 April
New Zealand's 2016 Olympian Angie Petty has just what you're looking for.

The 11-time national champion, who also took the 800m title at the 2015 World University Games, put together this 25-minute workout which includes, in order, the following six aptly named exercises:
1. Star jumps
2. Bunny hops
3. Usain Bolts
4. Mountain climbers
5. Press up on knees
6. Froggy Jumps

The workout is the first of three on Stay Fit with the Smits, a YouTube channel launched by Petty and her brothers Johnny and Tim, all personal trainers.


Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April
4-8 April
9-12 April
13-17 April
18-22 April