It’s one of Sydney’s most inclusive and galvanising annual events, attracting more than 80,000 participants from seasoned athletes to casual joggers. However, this year, those running the City2Surf won’t be taking on the usual 14km route from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. Concerns about the persistent presence of the virus in Sydney continue to make large-scale gatherings too high risk. So for the first time in five decades, the Sun-Herald City2Surf is going virtual. Sort of.
Runners will still be expected to pound the pavement on the streets of Sydney, on the same day and over the same 12-hour period, 6am to 6pm on October 18. However, in order to ensure physical distancing and other health protocols can be maintained, each entrant will be allowed to run any 14km stretch of the city they choose. To keep things honest, each participant will need to download a special City2Surf tracking app that will log the distance and time of their run.
This year marks the 50th annual City2Surf race, making such a radical reinvention for such unprecedented times even more historic. However, it is unlikely that the familiar competitive element of the event will be part of this year’s proceedings. For those taking part in the virtual run, there will be no prize money or any official winners, as the conditions and terrain each entrant chooses would make the results unfair. Organisers say it is unlikely that a reserved route for an elite race, as has been used for some marathon events around the world in recent months, would be possible in Sydney.
While the style may not be quite the same in 2020, the substance of the City2Surf will still survive to mark the race's first half-century. And don’t worry, everyone who takes part will still get a medal, albeit in the mail.
Entries into the 2020 City2Surf open on Thursday, August 13, and cost $39 per adult and $20 for children.