DEMOTTE — The organizers of the annual Rotary Ramble held out for as long as possible before deciding to cancel this year’s race but ultimately ran out of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It just came down to safety,” said Greg Fieldhouse, director of the annual event. “There are still too many unknowns and too many challenges to keeping participants safe. The number of cases is still increasing in many areas and the potential to spread the virus is too great.”
The decision was made with all of the parties that normally coordinate the event in full agreement and comes a little about two months after the decision was made to also cancel the annual Touch of Dutch Festival held that same weekend in August.
“We held out out as long as we could,” said Town Manager Heather Tokarz. “We had hoped for some normalcy to return this summer but the issues of how to do this safely were impossible to meet. How do you keep runners six feet apart, especially at the start?”
The event was slated for August 11 and would have been the 40th consecutive running of the race that was started by former Kankakee Valley School Corporation physical fitness teacher Char Groet. Groet stepped away as director a couple of years ago with Fieldhouse assuming that role.
“We definitely plan to continue the event next year if at all possible,” said Fieldhouse. “We will just have to celebrate the 40th then.”
The race is well known for its “trophies” that consist of wooden shoes. It is part of the elite Gold Cup Road Racing series and will continue to be so. The Gold Cup Series has attempted a few races this season but recently also announced that they were canceling the rest of the series.
Some of the issues in addition to the social distancing need regarding the races would include that water stations along the route with volunteers handing water to the runners cannot happen under current guidelines, nor could wet towels and snacks be safely distributed at the end of the race.