Hazardous Weather and Evacuation Protocol
The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon (GGHM) may be delayed up to one hour from the 7:30 a.m. (EST) start time due to hazardous weather or environmental conditions. After one hour, if conditions are still deemed too hazardous, the event will be canceled and no refunds will be provided. Cancellation of the event will be determined by GGHM officials in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Police Department and the City of Grand Rapids Office of Special Events.
FOG. If a heavy fog is present 15 minutes prior to the start time that substantially reduces visibility on the course and surrounding streets, event officials should determine if a delay until visibility has improved or a cancellation to ensure the safety of event participants and volunteers is required.
ICE. An ice storm within four hours of start time should be considered potentially dangerous to participants. Streets used for the race course will be treated appropriately with anti-ice agents coordinated by the City of Grand Rapids Office of Special Events. With a mid-April event, ice on the course is unlikely but should be considered as weather patterns during the past several years have been unpredictable. Extremely icy conditions and/or freezing rain near or at the 7:30 a.m. start will make the event subject to delay and/or cancellation if conditions are too dangerous at the start time.
LIGHTNING. An electrical storm within the race course area within one hour of the 7:30 a.m. start time should be considered potentially life threatening to participants, volunteers and spectators. In addition, timing mats will have to be turned off if lightning occurs as they can transport an electrical shock to those crossing the mats. A determination should be made by 7:10 a.m. as to whether the race should be continued as scheduled, delayed until the storm has passed or canceled altogether. While the determination is being made, participants, volunteers and spectators will be directed by the event emcees, staff and key volunteers, and the Grand Rapids Police Department, to take shelter in the Fifth Third Bank and Government Center underground parking levels.
TEMPERATURE. Extremely cold temperatures, although not likely, can happen in April and shouldn’t be taken lightly as frostbite can occur when parts of the body are exposed to temperatures below freezing for even a limited duration of time. Low temperatures, combined with wind producing wind chill, can be brought down further. Conditions can then become problematic for participants, especially if dressed inadequately for the conditions. If problematic temperatures are present when check-in opens on race day (6:30 a.m.), participants should be encouraged to stay in the Celebration tent on Calder Plaza (if heated) or return to their vehicles, remaining there until just before their start, then returning to the tent or seeking alternative options following their event as quickly as possible for shelter. The same should be said of volunteers, moving to and from assignments as quickly. If temperatures remain drastically below average, the event will be subject to delay and/or cancellation.
SEVERE WEATHER WATCHES AND WARNINGS. If there is a severe weather watch (thunderstorm, tornado, etc.) within two hours of start time and/or during the event, Gazelle Girl staff will work with the National Weather Service and the City of Grand Rapids Office of Special Events to monitor the situation while continuing to move forward with the event. If there is a severe weather warning, the National Weather Service will sound their siren for a tornado warning but not for a thunderstorm warning. As soon as weather is labeled “severe” by the National Weather Service, event emcees, staff and key volunteers will direct those at the start/finish line and/or Calder Plaza to evacuate to the Fifth Third Bank and Government Center underground parking ramp levels. If time allows, key staff will also unplug any electrical equipment in the area. Once the warning has passed, the Office of Special Events and the Grand Rapids Police Department will assist Gazelle Girl staff in determining whether or not the event can continue or be canceled with no refunds provided.
NON-WEATHER RELATED HAZARD. Occasionally, a situation may arise that could negatively impact the race course and/or surrounding area. If this happens in the two hours prior to the 7:30 a.m. start (i.e. residential/commercial fire, multi-vehicle accident, etc.) and the event can be re-routed around the situation, the continuation of the event and/or a one hour delay should be considered. If, however, a situation develops near start time that cannot be negated with minimal rerouting and/or a delay, the race could be canceled and no refunds provided. If an emergency situation arises which may impact the start/finish line and/or Calder Plaza, event emcees, staff and key volunteers will direct participants to the Fifth Third and Government Center underground parking levels.