View the SEVENTY48 cancellation policy here.
Update from the Race Boss, April 24, 2020
There are two ways to say this:
- R2AK and SEVENTY48 are canceled in 2020.
- R2AK and SEVENTY 2020 aren’t canceled, but you can’t cross the starting line until 2021.
Either way, Race to Alaska and SEVENTY48 are not running this year. Beyond the barrage of fan/hate mail for putting off the decision until now, we’ve been working behind the scenes weighing ethical and practical issues and holding hope in a chaotic environment. These days, finding answers is like reading tea leaves while skydiving. Foregoing the near impossibility of getting leaves to stay in the bottom of a cup, when we did, we were left with answers like, “bird, Aries, purification, wheel”—oddly on par for this virus. In the end, we switched back to coffee and chose to answer the same questions we ask of racers when racing:
Can we do this? Yes or No.
Is it worth the risk? Yes or No.
Can we survive this? Yes or No.
If you haven’t guessed, you need a triple affirmative before pushing away from your last success. The first error leading to any great debacle is often a simple decision compounding into a chain of errors leading to a free-fall, tea-leaf dive reading, “spiral, anchor, knots, stop.” (Which is apparently bad.)
Race heroics are often race jeopardy, and we refuse to gamble with others’ lives without their consent. We could race; there is a route around all the closures, but, like driving with your feet, could isn’t should, and it’s not worth the risk for racers or communities along the way.
Out of all the scenarios, pandemic was not a culprit calculated to close our races. It’s the correct and painful decision whose wake leaves us formulating our next steps. Dates are already set for next year (June 4, 2021) and barring, I don’t know, gigantic dinosaur extinguishing comets, we will be on the water in 2021 taking pictures like tourists and high fiving finishers. We hope to see you all there, and stay tuned for next steps.
In the meantime, we still plan on honoring the humans who registered for 2020 and delighting/angering our fans by completing R2AK bios and announcing SEVENTY48 teams for this year. Sure, there’s no race, but you are still awesome, and people should know about you. We’re also working on some other content to keep ourselves busy and the Race nation remotely together.
It’s an ironic/dated phrase at this point, but we’ll be in touch.
Daniel Evans, Race Boss
April 10, 2020
Over here at Races High Command we turn on every computer monitor and radio, set them all to news stations and spin in circles until we find a station that is not reporting on COVID-19; we are still spinning.
It’s because this virus is no joke. The total of fatalities in New York has now exceeded the terrorist bombing of the Twin Towers on September 11. Canadian borders remain closed to visitors. The Washington Governor has extended the statewide Shelter In-place order. State Parks, like our SEVENTY48 race site, Blake Island, remains closed. The Heiltsuk Nation, which includes the R2AK waypoint of Bella Bella, issued a bylaw closing their territory to non-Heiltsuk populations.
No corner or map edge is safe from the virus.
So, why are we holding out against all this evidence?
We’re not really ‘holding out.’ We are paying attention. We are measuring the distance between the do’s and don’t, can’t and won’t, want to and why risk it. Words like miraculous exist because events happen that can only be described as extraordinary, astounding, incredible and, well, miraculous. We are waiting because, despite the obvious, we can wait.
We love the waters these races traverse and have spent many years upon them. We wouldn’t run the races if they endangered communities. The fact that we haven’t made our decision has no bearing on our sensitivities to rural communities along the route or local and federal laws; it is tied to the fact that this pandemic changes every day and if we can wait to make a more informed decision, we will. And we can wait, a little while longer. On April 24th we’ll be announcing the final and permanent decision on R2AK and SEVENTY48 for 2020. Until April 24th all application and registration processes will be suspended.
A few weeks ago I said to cross the start line is to win, and this race is personal. Those sentiments have not changed—the theater, the context, and the reference all have. COVID-19 has demoted the individual triumph and elevated the collective. Where once a person found strength from deep within has now been replaced with the community stronghold we find around us—its ability to painfully contort to new norms and sacrifice comfort for the safety of the group, be it town, state, or country. What is noble, what is hero, is, for now, defined more wholly in the collective of our communities. The gambling, judgment, and risk of our races are real, but we draw the line if our risk threatens those who have not signed up for such treatment.
Until the 24th, we keep spinning through the media cycles. We do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us. We honor our communities, small and large. We look for hope in every cranny, and seek, in the end, to keep it real.
March 20, 2020
To our SEVENTY48 community,
I imagine in this day and age our news feed looks very similar and is awash in COVID updates. The answer you won’t find there is, “What about the races, R2AK and SEVENTY48?” They are still on.
The Northwest Maritime Center, proud non-profit of both races, has made some strategic and dramatic shifts to stay ahead of the pitfalls other companies who, if they deny the impact of COVID-19, may succumb to in the ensuing weeks. While restricting other Maritime Center activities, we have decided to focus on our magazine, 48º North, and three events: Race to Alaska, SEVENTY48, and our fall event, The Wooden Boat Festival.
Our races were created to celebrate the improbable hero in us all and recognize the power of togetherness in overcoming adversity. The Northwest Maritime Center has chosen to reflect that culture and those precepts. Even now, as Canada and the US agreed to further restrict travel across our shared border, we adapt. Can we run R2AK around Canada? Could we have separate starts? Better yet, can we bring in our more economical American cheese to Canada, exchange it for toilet paper, and reclassify R2AK as a trade partner? Year one of Race to Alaska was a success against all odds, so why not year six? Hurdles involving SEVENTY48, for now, appear less dramatic. We will continue.
We choose not to be held hostage by this global fear and are proceeding full steam ahead with pre-race social media campaigns, racer bios, features, and exploring a video blog or podcast to enhance the storytelling. The reality is that, by far, the largest viewing numbers we experience for both races are online. Ironically, the viewing of our races is made for this pandemic and people will be starving for something reflecting the human determination, hope, and courage we all seek to lead us out of this plight. I plan to offer just that. A successful year must mean success for us all. The aphorism, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” has never been more true or important. I will strive for our races to continue to be a beacon of innovation, hope and strength.
I ask you to continue posting on your own social feeds and sites. Train, help, and unite. Tell us and the world about it. Let’s be that rising tide together. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I will be putting out more information as we learn more. I am glad you are along for the ride.
Daniel Evans, Race Boss