Until we do. And the first indication that we are going to have to deal with? The cancellations of many many races as the CDC and other organizations start recommending limiting group sizes. I know many races are under 250 in entrants, but that doesn't include all the volunteers and crew helping the race. The entire spring racing season is on hold - either due to cancellation or postponement of many races. And of course, many of those runners are screaming for full refunds of their races. It's been building to a crescendo this past weekend on Facebook in the trail and ultra running groups. It's amazing how much people are focusing on the money they are "owed" vs the money that the race directors have already spent to support you and the rest of the athletes.
Some thoughts I while reading the comments demanding refunds - sometimes not in the most polite terms.
1) What can be used at future races as some people have asked? Not much really. Medals and awards have specific logos, dates and placements. Do you really want a medal from XXY race when you ran XYX race? Given the comments I see, no you don'. Can you give the overall winner award from one race to an age group winner in another? No - you can't. You can't reuse awards like that. Shirts have years on them and I know that runners don't want the 2020 shirt for 2021. Bibs often have the runner's name on them so those are hard to use for other events. These are all costs that have been incurred for every race - regardless of what you've paid for the race. And vendors will not take those items back and refund the costs involved. That's one place your money has gone - and those items aren't ones that have been purchased just before the race.
2) Permits have been paid for well before the event date.I doubt the county/city/state/BLM/DOT who issued those permits will refund the costs for the permits. If your race was a point to point race, the directors might be lucky and be able to get the transportation costs refunded. But how much is that really compared to the entire costs of putting on the race. So again, where is the money you are asking for coming from? It's already been used to set up your race. You're asking for money that is no longer there.