By Zach Neithercut
For the first time in its 44-year history, thousands of runners will not pound down the bricks of Saginaw Street this August in the Crim Festival of Races.
An official statement from the Crim Fitness Foundation has announced that the Foundation’s board voted to cancel the annual 2020 HAP Crim Festival of Races due to the State of Michigan’s restriction of large gatherings as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The traditional race has been postponed until Aug. 27-28, 2021, with the first ever HAP Virtual Crim occurring from Aug. 14-23 of 2020 instead.
With the Crim Foundation being a major purveyor of public health in the Greater Flint community, the health of the Crim’s participants, volunteers, sponsors, and others within the Greater Flint community was the primary concern behind the cancellation, according to the statement.
According to the foundation’s website, as part of the Virtual Crim, “10 days of Crim” will occur between Aug. 14 and Aug. 23 when race participants can complete their individual events at any point during the 10 days using any route, with the exception of official Crim routes with blue lines, as requested by the foundation. The reason for requesting runners not to use any official CRIM route is to avoid over-congestion of participants without any support, Crim materials explained. However, the fact sheet notes:
- Several 10-mile, 5-mile and 5-KK suggested routes throughout Genesee County and Michigan will be available for download.
Participants can then log their time and photos into the HAP Virtual Crim finisher results page and receive a digital certification for completion.
Prices for the virtual participation will be reduced to the lowest offered for the year for each event, according to the website, as follows:
- 10 Mile: $45
- 5 Mile Half Crim: $40
- 5K: $35
- Michigan Mile: $25
- Teddy Bear Trot: $15
Anyone who paid prices above these for their event will be automatically reimbursed, according to the site.
Current Interim CEO of the foundation, Lauren Holaly-Zembo, said the following regarding the decision:
“As staff our key role is to make sure we can provide as much information to our board to make an informed decision. We looked at trends in the race industry, guidance from health officials, and talked with our community.
“With such an important decision it was important to have a board perspective that has multi sector representation. Staff is there to be able to answer questions and provide perspective during these discussions and decisions.”
Holaly-Zembo also stated, “The HAP Crim Festival of race is such a historic celebration in our community. While it’s certainly disappointing that we won’t be able to gather in person this year, we knew we had to do something to keep inspiring people. During the COVID-19 pandemic many of our Crim Community of runners and walkers have still been able to keep up with their training so we are happy to be able to offer the virtual race option.”
While there will be no official assistance of any kind from the foundation at any point during the 10 days, race participants are encouraged to form teams of friends as long as the groups abide by the Governor’s social distancing guidelines of no more than 10 individuals per group.
The foundation will not provide:
- traffic support
- water and nutrition assistance
- medical support
- finish line support or celebration
Holaly-Zembo also noted how the cancellation may affect the foundation financially.
“The financial impacts of the cancellation have yet to be determined, as much of it depends on ongoing support from our sponsors and participation in the virtual race. The funding raised from the race helps us fund the other key programs and it may have an impact on our ability to deliver those.”
The CrimFit Training Program will continue leading up to the Virtual Race while following the state’s social distancing guidelines. Training Program participants can either stay in the program and complete the Virtual Crim, drop out of this year’s program and receive a partial registration credit for the 2021 program, or drop out of this year’s program and receive a partial refund, as explained by the factsheet.
Further details regarding the Virtual Crim can be found on a fact sheet on the foundation’s website here.
As detailed in an earlier EVM story, the non-profit Crim Fitness Foundation began as a 10-mile race in 1977 organized by past Michigan House Speaker Bobby Crim, now 88, and his late assistant, Lois Craig. Crim, still an active member of the foundation board, ran the 10-mile race last year and had hoped to run this year.
A panoply of races available from year to year, which have grown to attract up to 50,000 to downtown Flint , have included the classic 10-mile, a five-mile, a five-kilometer, a one-mile, also known as the “Michigan Mile” through the UM – Flint on Friday night of the race festival weekend, and a Teddy Bear trot.
EVM staff writer Zach Neithercut can be reached at email@example.com.