Posted on: 14 Mar 2020

These are strange times we find ourselves living in. One day, everything still seems kind-of normal; the next, the looming apocalypse has arrived, if you believe everything you read. Literally overnight (rather appropriately it was Friday 13th!) a whole raft of stringent anti-virus measures has been implemented. Not yet to the extent of semi-imprisonment like Italy, but suddenly the world seems to be shrinking, closing in, doors (literal and figurative) closing. Events cancelled, facilities closed, travel restricted, larger gatherings forbidden. I understand why, I'm not complaining - just a bit shocked at how things can go from 'normal' to 'crisis' so quickly. The Luzern Fasnacht went ahead, and I happily went out and mingled with the huge crowds despite the disquieting rumours of 'worse to come', hardly giving it a thought; but when the Basel Fasnacht one week later was cancelled, along with other large events like the motor show in Geneva and the Engadin Ski Marathon, the writing was already on the wall. Even so, life seemed to go on pretty well as normal for a couple of weeks. True, visits to the theatre and the cinema rquired me to confirm I hadn't been to any high-risk countries recently, and at an event at the Nature Museum last Wednesday, the organizer apologised for the absence of the planned speaker because she was in quarantine! - but schools were still open, despite the fact that Luzern's first confirmed case was a pupil at the local high school about 1 km from here, people were out and about, restaurants still had clientele.

And now: virtually all sporting and cultural events are cancelled; the LUGA, Luzern's annual trade and agricultural fair, is cancelled; schools are closed, swimming pools and ice rink are closed, museums are closed, the theatre is closed; restaurants may not have more than 50 people in them at a time; 'normal' public transport is still running, but 'purely touristic' routes are suspended, along with many cross-border trains; etc. etc. etc.  And Ticino, Switzerland's southernmost Kanton, bordering Italy, has declared a State of Emergency. But supermarkets did appear to have supplies in them when last I looked - panic buying has not (yet) set in.

A lot of this does not directly affect me - I had no plans to go to football matches, skating, or - with one unfortunate exception - on touristic jaunts, though I might have liked to go swimming, and I will miss the LUGA. And my favourite restaurants are small ones anyway. But there are a couple of direct casualties. One of these is the Kerzerslauf, a race for which I won a free start, and subsequently paid for J to come and run it with me. It would have been next Saturday. After initial doubts, followed by some conscientious training, I felt ready for it....... but fully expected it to be cancelled. So a bit disappointed, but not surprised. Another on my list, a half marathon at Muttenz at the end of April, has also fallen victim to the virus's impact. In fact, all races till the end of April appear to have been cancelled, including the local 10k Rotseelauf, and the Luzerner Stadtlauf - this is a real shocker, as it's a big local event, as much festival as race, this would have been its 43rd year, it's never been cancelled before, and I have a soft spot for it as it's where my running began, almost a quarter of a century ago. The Zürich marathon is cancelled too, along with many others around the world. I had a look ahead to May to see what else I could find, alighting with satisfaction on Winterthur, where a return visit is long overdue, only to discover they're contemplating the spectre of cancellation too, if the situation doesn't improve soon.

The other casualty could prove a bit more expensive. J has been working so hard recently, and under so much stress, I thought he deserved a break, so I booked us a holiday at Easter, which coincides with his birthday. In Italy, of all places......! - before the virus decided to visit Italy too. That's more or less irrelevant now, as the travel company has now cancelled ALL trips for the foreseeable future. Financial consequences as yet unknown. (I don't have a lot of luck booking holidays! - the first trip I booked to Iceland, the company went bust about 2 weeks later, and it took over a year of form-filling, letter-writing, and general hassle before I got a refund; and even then, it was in Euros at an unfavourable exchange rate (I paid in CHF), so I lost about 10%. My next attempt at visiting Iceland was unproblematic, but the weather was rubbish, so no Northern Lights (okay, I know they're never guaranteed......) Istria was fine, and I thought Italy was a safe bet too - I never saw this coming!)

So here I am in my little parochial world, with my little parochial concerns, while the bigger picture is far more serious. Apologies for self-indulgence. Nothing for it: like everyone else, I just have to 'get on with life.' Many other things may be closed, cancelled, and otherwise in a state of uncertainty. But spring is springing, the Bireggwald is not closed, and we are still free to go out, so today it was on with the running kit and over to Allmend and our 'fantasy parkrun'. Yes, I can live with this state of affairs, as long as I still have running and walking to keep me sane.

Stay safe, all. This can't last for ever (can it?!)

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