Nijmegen plans to press ahead with its Seven Hill Run with 15,000 runners

The race in 2013. Photo: Husky via Wikimedia Commons
The race in 2013. Photo: Husky via Wikimedia Commons

A 15 kilometres race which attracts thousands of participants and is held every year in the vicinity of Nijmegen will go ahead in November despite coronavirus, the organisers say.

The Zevenheuvelenloop (seven hill run) will be held on November 15 as planned but there will be no supporters to wave on the runners, no prize giving and no stop-off for water, organiser Alexander Vandervelde told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

The start of the race will be divided over five streets and the space has been split into blocks so that each of the 15,000 runners has their own place.

‘We are dividing all the participants over the complete day, from 9am to 5pm,’ he said. ‘It might be a lot of people given coronavirus, but it is not overwhelming. We are used to processing 21,000 runners over three hours and Nijmegen can take it. We’ve carried out proper checks.’

Leiden University virologist Louis Kroes told the broadcaster that the plans appeared to be responsible. ‘Caution is to be recommended,’ he said. ‘But we do know the risk of infection is much smaller outside than indoors.’

In addition, the continual streams of air created as the runners move will make sure that any infectious droplets they exhale will be dissipated quickly. ‘This makes the likelihood of infection virtually nil,’ he said.

Kroes said the way runners behave at the finishing line will be crucial and that they should not pause as soon as the race has ended.

Vandevelde told RTL that had been taken into account. ‘We have calculated that 50 people will finish the race every minute,’ he said. ‘We will ask them to grab a drink in a bottle and walk directly to their car, using the proper routes. And we are calling on the runners to be sensible,’ he said.

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