Stay At Home Order Day One: Virtual Runs

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I don’t know that I’ve ever actually done a virtual run before. Today, I am heading out to do two. I was signed up for two in-person races today…the Paleolithic Trail Race 25K this morning in Chicago and the Shamrock Beer Run this afternoon in Milwaukee. I normally don’t sign up for two races in one day, but I was planning to take the beer run at a more leisurely pace as beer stations are offered to runners every 1K.

Instead of outright canceling, both races offered a virtual option. Upon completion of the Paleolithic Trail Run, race directors, Bill and Michelle Thom, have instructed runners to send a picture of their finish and GPS of their distance. They will then send you a colorful lanyard, dated “Cambrian Spring II – March 21, 2020 and a bumper sticker. “The lanyards are instant collectors items,” stated Thom, “never to be presented at an official Paleozoic Trail Runs. But we’d like to send one to you!”

Although I’d much rather be toeing the line with my trail running buddies this morning, I understand the prohibition against large groups and so appreciate the Thom’s allowing us to have this experience just in a different way. There is something about the solidarity of race participants doing this together at about the exact same time.

Shamrock Beer Run RD, Tom Jordan, offered participants the option to run virtually and their packages would be mailed free of charge. A couple of days ago I received a box filled with my race bib, T-shirt, medal, and an adorable pint glass. What a fun surprise to open up as I was quarantined working from home!

I put the entire package into my office and plan to unload everything today at 2 PM, which is the time this fun run was scheduled to take place in Milwaukee. This run generally draws thousands of people for a fun spirited afternoon. Upon completion of this run, runners are instructed to upload their results and a picture. “We do not recommend Drinking Beer before or during your virtual race – but we also can’t stop you :-)” stated Jordan in an email to runners. My experience today will be slightly different, as it will just be me again, running the streets of Northern Illinois.

It is incredibly meaningful that both race directors have gone above and beyond their call of duty to encourage runners to still get out and run. A huge thank you to the Bill and Michelle Thom, Tom Jordan, and all of the other RD’s out there doing this for us.

As runners who enjoy the community of organized races. Over the next several weeks, we will not have that. But as the Governor stated in his press conference yesterday, this is the only way we can save lives. It sure doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice in exchange for the safety and well-being of the public.

It has been fun to see how race directors have adapted and provided runners with various options. The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) created a virtual run specifically designed around what’s happening in the world right now. Called the Social Distancing Run, participants receive a virtual package of a T-shirt and run the distance of their choice. Results should be submitted before March 31st.

Dubbed as a “a virtual run to promote safe social distancing in the running community,” the website describes the event this way:

“Join us in committing to safe social distancing practices in your running as we battle the coronavirus while supporting the Chicago Area Runners Association, a 501c3 not-for-profit committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. Your support of this virtual run helps us during this challenging time when we are limited in our ability to provide programming and events that fund our mission.”

You can learn more about the Social Distancing Run here.

All Community Events, another key race organizer in our area, has postponed three of their races scheduled to take place in March and April. They recognize that runners are missing the organized race feel, and have announced three virtual run options for our locked in the runners.

All Community Events just announced: Bigfoot: The Social Distancing Champion’s Running Challenge.

We all know that Bigfoot is the social distancing champion. What you might not know is that Bigfoot is a very caring and avid runner. He has set up a challenge for you…
Help support food banks across the country and your sanity by taking Bigfoot’s challenge…Run 5K, 10K or a Half Marathon between now and March 31st. Here are the rules…Run it on your own, on a course of your choosing or treadmill, report your time to be added to the virtual leader board, and we will send you this commemorative shirt.”

You can learn more about Bigfoot here. All Community Events also just launched a Virtual MomStrong Run/Walk and Ruff Runner, a virtual run for you and your pup!

As you are home this weekend, as most of us will be, check out these virtual runs and think about signing up for a few. Not only will it help these organizations, but you will be surprised at how much community you can feel by doing something at the same time as someone else. Even if you are not in the same place.

When I used to go to sleepovers, my mom would tell me to look at the moon at a certain time so that we would both be looking at it at the same time. When you go on your run think about that and do a quick look at the sun or a passing cloud. Take heed in the fact that a fellow runner may be doing the same thing at the same exact time. We’re in this together and will cross the finish line at some point. We just may not be side-by-side.

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