The following news items were reported via the race newsletter. To subscribe, send a blank email to: email@example.com.
[February 18, 2021]
At this time last year, the world was only just beginning to hear about a new, potentially-lethal virus. We had no idea how much things would change over the course of the next 12 months.
The initial lockdowns which caused the cancellation of our 10th Anniversary celebration were important and necessary but not enough to prevent the virus from spreading. The disappointment of that pivot to a virtual event was real and we appreciated the grace and understanding that was afforded to us as we stood in an unheated downtown storefront that would have been our goody bag workshop and instead turned it into a dreary mailroom for sending out over 350 packages. Not even Sunshine Bear could get us to smile those days.
Of course that pales in comparison to what so many have suffered in illness, economic strain, and feelings of isolation and personal loss this past year. Our virtual hugs (the only ones still allowed) go out to each of you.
We hoped, as everyone did, that by 2021 we'd have the pandemic in the rearview mirror and life as normal would resume. But "normal" has been forever changed and with new strains emerging and vaccines still slow to roll out, most prohibitions on gatherings, especially large gatherings, aren't able to be lifted...not yet.
We wanted to find some way to go forward with an in-person event this year. Knowing that our April date would be unlikely, our first move was to check around about fall. But fall in the Finger Lakes is the height of winery business, and small family owned wineries have struggled, just as restaurants and other small businesses have. The wine industry is looking forward to welcoming their guests back en masse in the fall, and hosting our event on top of what they are planning is just not in the cards. There is no "low-traffic" fall weekend, no vast unused parking lots for us to occupy as exchange points.
So then we pivoted to a variety of ideas that would decrease density on the course, a multi-day "Seneca7 weekend," that would split the field into three heats, a "bikes only" option (which would fulfill a long-standing dream of Jeff's!), a event staged with different starting points and staggered finishes, a 'relay-bubble' event housed entirely within Seneca Lake State Park. We actually came up with permutations of the Seneca7 that might be really fun freestanding events someday, but none of these iterations could make all the moving pieces fall into place to make it happen. Each version encountered some stumbling block, whether it was problems getting a valid permit for such an event, insurance concerns, skepticism from key stakeholders about the viability of a different version being able to comply with the parameters, etc. There is a lot that goes into moving almost 3000 people 77.7 miles in a single day, and with various COVID restrictions and related logistical challenges, we just can't make it work.
We know this is not the news you wanted, and it's not what we wanted, either. So much has happened in the past year--personally and professionally--that we are all looking for that one day of laughter and light that has become our annual Seneca7 relay. Believe us, we wanted that this year. But it just isn't meant to be.
For teams that have carried forward entries from last year, we will continue to carry you on. We want the Seneca7 to return in 2022 and we want you to be there with us. The virtual event is fun in its own way, but it's certainly not a replacement for the on-course, in-person memories teams make each year. We like being part of that and welcoming you into this place we call home.
With so many races folding, some of you have asked about the future of the Seneca7 and we want to address that directly. This event has always been a labor of love. It's not our job and we have thankfully been able to continue our professional endeavors remotely. But this event does mean a lot to the community, and we have been sad to lose the revenue that flows to the charities after the race. Though it's not a one-to-one replacement, we've tried to volunteer more than ever to help shoulder the ever-increasing load of the non-profit agencies as they continue to provide vital services to our neighbors. We want the race to return for you, and for them. So we will do our best to host you on April 24, 2022. Did you know the first edition of the Seneca7 was held on April 24th? How's that for serendipity?
We know that many of you compete in other events that *have* been able to move to the fall and we wish you all the best in those. For those of you doing the Seneca7i this year, we hope it's giving you a bit of normalcy and a chance to stay in touch with your teammates.
[February 12, 2021]
When we sent a message asking for a Valentine's missive about the race, it was like Cupid's arrow in the arm of your fellow athlete, Matt Geer.
Within hours, at 3:37pm to be exact, we received an amazing entry from Matt. It is so good that it makes us wonder if he hadn't been composing this sonnet in his head (and heart) over the years!
There seems to be a hint of T.S. Eliot's "Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" when Matt starts waxing poetic about exchange points "wineries come, wineries go..." He manages to make the safety vests sound almost romantic, and gives a nod to the glacial beginnings of our beautiful Seneca Lake.
All in all, this is a triumph of the poetic form and we are happy to share it with you for your own reading pleasure. And we're happy to share with Matt a $250 gift certificate to Magnus Ridge winery! His only error in the poem was his assumption that we have a post-race celebration with wine. We actually don't drink, but we appreciate the craft that helps put our Finger Lakes region on the map and we certainly support our exchange point partner wineries!!
Are you wondering when we'll have more contests? Well, if you have been reading the emails I've been sending out you'd know that there are more contest opportunities embedded in the virtual course map.
[January 21, 2021]
As we enter the third week of the Seneca7i, some teams have been burning up the miles! Three teams already have seven or more legs completed. Don't worry, you have until 4/7/21 to git 'er done, but it can be fun to watch the team progress board (we're keeping the times hidden until the end!). The website also has the interactive course guide with encouragements and maybe some other chances to win goodies.
Because we much prefer it when love is in the air (as opposed to a virus!), we have another contest for you (details below). The entry deadline is 2/11 (at 11:57pm of course). Winners will be announced via Facebook on Valentine's Day!
There once was a great relay race,
that because of COVID can't take place,
but we still wanted some fun
with a virtual one
and now we all share remote space.
So to reward your body and mind,
here's an effort of a different kind:
compose a haiku or verse
that is joyful, not terse
that is the race spirit enshrined.
Your "Ode to the Seneca7"
must be submitted February 11
then we will see
our favorite three
and select a winner.*
*obviously we couldn't rhyme the last line or else we'd be the clear winner before the contest even starts.
Submit your "Ode to the Seneca7" to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:57pm on 2/11 and if your poem/haiku/free verse/spoken word is picked as a finalist you win a prize. Be the top overall selection and win an even bigger prize! You can simply email the poem as text, but short videos (or url links to longer recordings) of you reading or performing the piece are certainly welcomed!
[January 6, 2021]
There's nothing predictable about a pandemic, except that things don't get better as quickly as you'd like. We don't see a path forward for an in-person event in April, with the possible exception of a bike-team-only edition, but even that is uncertain. As soon as we have some information we can count on, we'll let you know. A final decision will be made no later than February 15th.
[December 17, 2020]
Since announcing the virtual event, we have been busy (maybe not as busy as Taylor Swift--*two albums!*). While we still explore in-person option(s) for April (which still seems incredibly unlikely but we will hold off on a conclusive decision until we exhaust every possibility), we want the Seneca7i to be a robust alternative.
In case you missed it, this is your chance to tackle the course distances with up to 20 friends, to invite people in who might walk instead of run, or to do the entire thing solo--none of those options are available in the in-person Seneca7. If you know someone who still wants to be part of this, they can register here.
When captains signed up they received two links: the first link brings you to the store to order a goody pack (if you so desire) and for additional teammates to sign up (this fee is waived for teams who were registered for 2020's cancelled edition); the second link is the team website where names and times will be logged. This page does not become active until the official start date of January 7th, and no efforts before that date count toward completion of this challenge.
When your team page goes live, so will the interactive map. That will be linked from the Seneca7 homepage. The map is a virtual version of the beloved course guide. We encourage you to explore, click on, and read the information there. You might even find some bonus features. Our goal is to make this event more interactive than other virtual offerings out there. We plan to host three contests: one in January, one in February, and one in March and might have some additional prize opportunities peppered in and around the race. To the attentive goes the rewards (just coined that phrase--patent pending!).
The Seneca7 facebook page will be the go-to location for posting photos and progress reports about your Seneca7i experience. There will also be some twitter hashtags to follow (maybe we can make #evermore about miles instead of champagne problems).
We look forward to embarking on this adventure with you and hope you enjoy it. As always, we remain open to suggestions, feedback, criticism, etc.
[October 28, 2020]
We have been working hard to try and figure out what will become of the 2021 Seneca7 after the necessary cancellation of the 2020 event due to COVID. This pandemic isn't over and we have no idea what the world will be like next week, let alone in five months.
On 11/7 we will open registration for the virtual Seneca7 (known as the "Seneca7i"). This is only iteration of the event in which we will allow all the crazy things you've asked for over the years--the chance to try it solo, to have a team of 21 members, to have just three people do seven legs each, to make it a leisurely walk around the lake.
Only the team captain (or solo-runners) needs to do the initial signup at www.Seneca7.com. Once complete, the captain will get access to a link to add team members. The initial registration fee is $30, which includes one set of Seneca7 socks and gloves. Additional team members will pay $10 to participate, or $25 if they want participation + the sock and glove Goody Pack. Captains will track completion of the distance corresponding to each of the 21 legs at any time from January 7- April 7 and there will be various contests (for great prizes!) and other kitschy (virtual) happenings along the way. All participants will have access to the progress chart, interactive course map, and photo stream to share pictures from your runs. A live replay of the virtual race will be posted when the event closes and then you will receive a finisher certificate that includes your team's name, time, and rank.
In addition to planning this virtual event in a way that stays true to the quirky-ness of the Seneca7 you've come to expect (and maybe love, but at least it's expected), we continue to brainstorm ways of offering some in-person version of the race the weekend of April 25th. Our priority is always safety--of our athletes, our volunteers, and the community at large. While we know the regular event, with over 350 teams out on the course, is not going to work, we are back in the lab exploring several other permutations to see what might. Priority for any in-person event would go to the teams who carried forward their entry from 2020, but we are trying to figure out a variety of possible options that might appeal to you. Signing up for the virtual event should be seen as a standalone winter contest and an if-all-else-fails backup for race weekend. Signing up for the virtual doesn't in any way jeopardize your ability to participate in an in-person option, should one become available, but information and registration for that would be a ways down the line.
[October 7, 2020]
It is too early to determine whether an in-person event is possible for 2021. We would like to be able to do it, but right now it doesn't look feasible or responsible. That decision will be made closer to 2021, when we know what the city and State will allow as well as the general situation as it relates to responding to the threat of COVID-19.
If the in-person event happens, it will be April 25, 2021. We have investigated the possibility of postponing to later in the year, but that is not possible.
We DO know that we will offer a virtual Seneca7 in 2021, regardless of whether or not we can hold an in-person event. The virtual Seneca7 (which we will again call the Seneca7i) will be free of charge for those who deferred their entry from 2020, and participation in the virtual event will not affect your credit for a future in-person Seneca7.
Registration for the virtual Seneca7i will open to 2020 participants on October 31 and to the general public on November 7.
Please check back here for updates as we move closer to 2021. And thank you for your understanding during these difficult and uncertain times!