Thousands gather for King of the Hammers off-roading race in California

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Thousands of off-roading enthusiasts and rock climbers are defying lockdown rules to gather in the southern California desert for the annual King of the Hammers race.

The nine-day event, which takes place in the remote Johnson Valley, was given the go-ahead by the Bureau of Land Management although race organizers have said that strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. All participants require a negative COVID-19 test and a mask to attend, and temperatures are checked regularly. COVID tests are also available on site, according to a report.

The event, which combines off-road racing with rock-climbing, is spread out over 96,000 acres of public land, event organizers said.

Despite the protocols, thousands of people have descended on the region. “Roads are packed,” one local resident told the SFGate. “Grocery stores are packed. Everything is packed.”

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