This has been the question on our minds for the last few weeks, and no doubt the minds of many Challengers too. We hope the answer will be yes but, whilst before Christmas we were pretty confident, the new variants and high Covid-19 infection rates are becoming increasingly worrying. We still hope the current lockdown and vaccination programme will save many lives as well as this May’s TGO Challenge, but maybe it is time to have a Plan B in place just in case . . .
Should the Highlands not open up in time for May instead of cancelling altogether we are looking at contingency dates in June or July. We know not everyone who is committed to May would be able to come along but we think a smaller, later Challenge would be better than no TGOC21 at all. We really can’t let Covid beat us for a second year running! Looking at alternative dates made us realise just how well Roger Smith and Hamish Brown chose all those years ago. School holidays limiting accommodation options, midges and stag shooting would all add complications, but we think an Event would still be possible. Of course, anyone who couldn’t (or chose not to) participate in a postponed TGOC21 could opt for places in 2022 or 2023 as per our current cancellation policy.
May remains very much our preferred option. It is too early to decide at the moment if this is possible as so much may change in the next few weeks. Our plan is to review the situation in early March when we hope we will have a better idea which way infection rates are going, when the current UK lockdowns might ease and what travel restrictions might be in place for our overseas participants. The later we make a decision the more chance there is of the Event going ahead in May but we also understand that causes more uncertainty particularly for those who need to make travel arrangements. Neither do we want to fix contingency dates quite yet. Earlier dates would avoid some of the problems but might not give enough time for the Covid situation to improve.
So, for now, we will carry on as normal which means we will continue vetting routes and ask everyone who has not yet submitted theirs to stick to the 22nd February deadline. We need to have completed all vettings and revisions by the end of March so that we are ready for May and, should we have to postpone the Event until the summer, allow both us and the vetters a much-needed break.
Thank-you for all the supportive messages we have received. We know how important this Event is to so many people and that having something to look forward to is also a comfort. We have once again been amazed by the positivity of the Challenge community. We will do our very best to have a safe Challenge this year if it is at all possible.
Ali & Sue