The 2021 Mount Panorama Punish officially cancelled due to COVID-19

THE Mount Panorama Punish has become the latest event in the region to fall by the wayside in the wake of COVID-19 as organisers made the announcement on Monday that they would not be able to run the event.

Despite having a two month buffer before the event on October 24 it was decided that due to the high number of entries from outside the region that an early call to cancel the run before its scheduled date would be the safer call.

NO PUNISH: Aaron Houston would have been heading into this year's Mount Panorama Punish in excellent form. Photo: ANYA WHITELAW

 NO PUNISH: Aaron Houston would have been heading into this year’s Mount Panorama Punish in excellent form. Photo: ANYA WHITELAW

It’s a very disappointing outcome for the Punish committee who already had to run a reduced event in 2020, open only to competitors from the region, due to initial COVID public health orders last year.

Co-organiser Jenn Arnold said with so many visiting runners lining up for a shot at the lap around Mount Panorama the October date was looking flimsier with every day that went by.

“We had over 700 entries and about two thirds of those entries came from outside the local area. We started to get enquires from people wondering what we were going to do and whether they should cancel accommodation,” she said.

“We wanted to be able to give everyone as much notice as we could while allowing them to hold out hope for the situation to change, but that’s something that clearly wasn’t going to, especially with Bathurst now getting a couple of cases.

“We didn’t want to put the community at risk by running it and that’s why we had to make a call.”

Arnold said the ‘locals only’ concept also wasn’t a realistic option for a second year in a row.

Financial and logistical concerns about running the event that way again also played into the early decision.

“The difference between last year and this year is that regional areas weren’t affected as much by COVID, so we were holding out hope that if we couldn’t hold the punish for everyone in Australia that we’d be able to hold it for locals again,” she said.

“It just became apparent that that was going to be tricky to manage, and also we need it to be financially viable for us.

“In the future we want to punish to continue on, and we’ve got some great business sponsors but we were going it alone this year without the support of Bathurst Regional Council.

“That meant we had to make sure that we did our numbers right and that we could keep things running long term.

“It’s sad but everybody understands the situation. We’ve had some lovely messages of support and some nice emails to us. That was really nice to see.”

Western Advocate – 25 August 2021 By Alex Grant

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