Whether you are a long-time runner or new to the sport, you’ll likely be aware of a trend that has taken off in the last few years in the running community. Imagine a 5K or 10k race with no crowds, no parking problems, no DJ revving up the runners and no long cues at the Porta Potties – there isn’t even an official route or starting line. Now you have the vision of a virtual race!

Virtual races have gained in popularity because of the convenience and flexibility they offer. Runners sign up for a virtual race online and choose their own route, whether it’s through your neighborhood streets or on a treadmill. You run at your own pace and on your own schedule. When you have completed the race distance, you simply upload your finishing time. In most virtual races participants will be mailed a medal and, like many physical races, virtual races are often committed to donating to a charity.

We may see an explosion of virtual races in 2020 as traditional races across the globe have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and runners everywhere are looking for new opportunities to challenge themselves.

From June 6th to 10th, runners from South Georgian Bay laced up their shoes to complete a

virtual 5k or 10k race while raising money for the CGMH Foundation and the COVID-19 Critical Response Fund.

The Social Distance Race for CGMH was conceived by Matt Sheldon, a physiotherapist and Collingwood resident who thought it would be a great opportunity to put social distancing exercise to the test.

“We know virtual races are not the same as regular race meets with hundreds of runners to compete with, but it is the best we can do in the current circumstances and it is an opportunity to set your own training goals and work towards them,” Sheldon says.

With no set entrance fee, Sheldon encouraged participants to ‘donate-what-you-can’ during these difficult times.  At least fifty runners were inspired by Sheldon’s motivation to keep active while also raising money for a worthwhile cause. Competitive runners, first timers, and walkers all joined together to raise $636, which Sheldon indicates the hospital is putting it towards new infusion pumps.

Submitted by:  Valerie O’Brien