Strathpuffer 2022 Cancelled

Posted on by Steve Macdonald

Strathpuffer Cancelled

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should . . .

On Tuesday 21 December, the First Minister provided an update to the Scottish Parliament on COVID-19 and related restrictions relating to mass participation events. It has since been clarified that event participants do not count towards the 500-attendance limit for outdoor events although the overriding message remains that non-essential activity should be avoided wherever possible.

So, in theory, if we limited support teams and banned spectators there is an argument that we could stage the Strathpuffer and remain within the prevailing restrictions.

Nevertheless, we have decided to cancel the 2022 Strathpuffer for the following reasons:

We rely on lots of people to deliver the Puffer from a wide range of organisations, many of these people have direct or indirect links with NHS Highland. We cannot, in all conscience, take the risk of heaping yet more pressure on the NHS by causing any additional staff absences due to our wee cycle event.

In a similar vein, we know that we have an ambulance call out to every other Strathpuffer and an average of 4 independent A&E visits every year as a direct result of the event – again, it seems unjustifiable to increase the pressure on the NHS in this way in the middle of a pandemic.

We also need to consider the local community – COVID-19 prevalence in the Highlands is still very low compared to most other areas of the UK– we would not want to endanger that position by bringing competitors from all over the UK to the area, no matter how careful we asked everyone to be.

We also have a responsibility to our marshal team – they have supported us for countless hours, in all weathers, for many years – some at every Puffer – however small the risk to their health for helping us is, there is no doubt that it is greater than in a “normal” year so we need to bear that in mind. Quite a few of our marshals are also NHS employees.

There are lots of other considerations, not least of which is your safety as competitors, but we think that the above gets us over the line in terms of justifying our decision.

We appreciate that a lot of you are keen to get out there and ride your bikes around the forest in Contin for 24 hours and that we could put more measures in place to minimise the COVID-19 risk – we’ve discussed creating a Strathpuffer bubble, any amount of cleaning protocols and moving to no alcohol and takeaway food only, but the bottom line is that this feels like the right thing to do in the current circumstances – it’s a cycle event we can do next year.

It’s important to us that every Puffer is a fabulous event with a brilliant relaxed atmosphere, the camaraderie you all bring and the odd bit of mud and ice. We don’t want to short change you all with an event where we can’t guarantee this.

Even though this may be seen by some of you as the easy option, please believe that this has not been an easy decision. Nevertheless, we as an organising team, think that on balance this is the right way forward and we hope you understand.

We will be in touch as soon as we can regarding transfers to the 2023 event or refunds.

In the meantime, get out on your bikes, stay safe and have a fabulous 2022.

The Strathpuffer Organising Team

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