The Tumut Cycle Classic will ride this Sunday morning, one of the first cycling events to be held in Australia in the new CovidSafe world.
Last year’s Classic was cancelled as the Dunns Road fire continued to roar, but organiser Dr Tarek Sari said they were still able to raise $20,000 for the Tumut Hospital. This year, it was important to offer the town and the participants something to look forward to. They’re hoping to raise $50,000 to purchase anesthetic equipment for the hospital and attempt to attract an anesthetist or GP with anesthetic training.
“We’ve been closely following all medical advice and we’ve been diligently looking at the NSW Health website and essentially following all advice from the chief medical officer and whatever recommendations they put forward, we follow those recommendations,” said Dr Sari.
The new CovidSafe measures include capping the race at 450 participants, creating QR codes for the race check-in, ensuring there is plenty of sanitiser to go around and organising additional volunteers (in masks) to monitor social distancing.
The event organisers have also been in regular communication with participants, cancelling registrations for anyone from a Covid hotspot and urging anyone with cold or flu symptoms to stay home.
Dr Sari said he had cancelled several registrations from Sydney’s Northern Beaches and offered refunds to others who reported having symptoms.
“At the moment we’re close to 400 [cyclists], which is still pretty good,” he said earlier this week.
“The majority are from other regional towns. A big number are from Wagga and the ACT. Some people from Victoria could not come because their border restrictions mean that when they re-enter Victoria, they’d have to quarantine, so they pulled out.”
Despite the challenges, and the extraordinary organisational requirements, Dr Sari was upbeat about the event, describing it as ‘monumental’ for a small town like Tumut to pioneer CovidSafe cycling events.
“Definitely a lot more planning and a lot more organising,” he said.
“We’ve got nurses who will go around temperature checking every participant before they start. We’ve really stepped it up to ensure the safety of everyone at large, both the community and people participating.”
Dr Darwiche, local GP and Vice President of the Classic, will also be on hand to monitor anyone with symptoms, to ensure they are properly checked and referred for a Covid test. Dr Sari said anyone with symptoms on the day will be turned away and directed to quarantine and get tested.
“We believe it’s important to follow all protocols and persevere [with hosting the Classic] in order to equip the local hospital to treat the local population in the best way possible,” he said.
“This anesthetic service is a necessity for Tumut and surrounding areas. We believe it is important to not only follow all protocols but to go ahead, ensuring that we meet every standard, plus we’ve added extra precautionary measures for added safety.”
Every cent which is donated to the Classic will be donated to the Tumut Hospital for the anesthetic equipment, according to Dr Sari, as it has been every year for the past six years that the Classic has been running.
Online registrations closed Thursday evening, but Dr Sari said donations will continue to filter in until the numbers are finalised a few weeks from now, when the sponsorships are finalised.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so at
Dr Sari also asked local residents to delay any non-essential trips on Sunday morning, to keep the roads clear for cyclists and their families.
“We encourage the local people to be cautious on the roads Sunday morning, because the cyclists that are coming are guests to our town and they’re contributing to our hospital,” he said.
“If you don’t have an important journey on Sunday morning, possibly delay to that afternoon when the cyclists are off. That ensures a safe path, since there will be lots of families with children, in particular on the 20km ride.”
The Classic comprises four rides, which all start and end at the Tumut Bull Paddock. The 100km ride starts at 6.10am, followed by the 75km ride at 6.15am. The 40km ride will start at 7.30am and the 20km ride will start at 7.45am.
Dr Sari said the Classic’s end time depends on the individual riders’ speeds, but organisers tend to close the official side of the event around midday on Sunday.