Though this year’s delayed FIBArk lacked large crowds and festivals, it highlighted what the festival is really about: the river and the athletes who partake.
The community came out to support the participants while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Most spectators wore masks and cheered participants on from the edge of the river.
Not all the traditional events were held due to health concerns, but that did not stop athletes from coming out and participating in the events they love. The events held over the weekend included:
- Hill Climb
- Pine Creek Race
- Slalom Race
- Downriver Races
From July 4 to August 7 the Mountain Bike Challenges and Running Races were held virtually. Participants of the running race logged their times and then posted them to determine a winner. The Mountain Bike Challenge participants also logged their times but this year the event was renamed as there will not be any winners.
Sage Kitson, a member of the FIBArk board reflected on pulling back on this year’s festival “It has been incredibly stressful and scary considering COVID but getting the whitewater events together has been great for the community and morale of Salida. It has helped bring some people in.”
Kitson continued “People have been really respectful of the six-foot rule. We’ve been 100 percent backed by the city, the county commissioners the AHRA, local businesses. We have a lot of support.”
FIBArk President Sarah Briam expressed how this year’s festival was different not just because of COVID-19 but its change of focus.
“It’s kind of like hitting a reset button and bringing the focus back to the athletes and some of the river events that aren’t the huge spectator events because we’re avoiding that,” said Briam. ” A lot of the events are the competitors competing with themselves and their own personal best times. With the virtual races happening people can compete and not feel the pressure of an immediate race.”
“It is really cool to see all the race boats in town, all the bibs down in the play holes, all the people practicing and bring the attention back to the river,” continued Briam. “On the bright side of it all, I think it’s an opportunity to get back to the roots of what FIBArk is and what it means. It’s an opportunity we found with the current situation, but it’s one we’re liking.”
Briam explained “It’s nice to see what we can get back to with the racers and the community”
Times and winners will be posted on FIBArk’s website in the next couple of days.
Featured photo: The community came out to watch the Slalom Races while practicing social distancing and mask wearing. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.