For the first time in 124 years the Boston Marathon was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. Other major races such as the Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half Marathon, held annually in Vancouver have also been cancelled.
Other more local runs, ranging from 5 kilometre races to marathons in Edmonton and area have also cancelled or reassessed the method of conducting their events this summer.
Dawn Trent and Emily Trent of Millet are two participants in numerous virtual races this summer. On Wednesday June 3, they participated in the Lululemon Global Running Day 5K; a virtual running challenge set up with STRAVA. The challenge had a total of 359,939 participants across North America.
Most races that set for this summer have given participants the option of deferring their race package until next year, or participating virtually from their own communities this year.
The June 3 virtual run was Dawn Trent’s first virtual run.
Dawn Trent decided to virtually run most of the races she signed up for this year. She explains, “One (race) that we were going to do in Lethbridge was non-profit.” With that race donating all proceeds to charity, Trent says it would put the organizers in an unfortunate spot to refund the race. “They already committed the money to the charity,” says Trent.
Trent is also set to virtually run the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon. The swag package that comes with race registration, including the finisher medal and wine from Kelowna, will be mailed out to participants in late July.
Some races like Lululemon Sea Wheeze are offering a discount on the registration fee to sign up to run virtually. This run would also include the runner’s swag package.
Trent says that the hardest part of transitioning to the virtual races is a lack of motivation.
“(It) definitely doesn’t make you want to do your training as much,” says Trent. She adds that you have to rely more on your own will power to complete your run, “you don’t get the adrenaline of the crowd.”
Many large races, like the ones set up by Lululemon have mass groups of volunteers set up along the race path to cheer on runners.
Emily Trent agrees with Dawn. “I think it’s way harder, because then you are just by yourself,” Emily says.
Most races plan to resume their regular event scheduling and plans for the 2021 season.