For the first time since its inception 12 years ago, the city’s annual Park to Park Half Marathon has been cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, community members may still see runners completing their 13.1 miles beginning this weekend through May 10 in a new “virtual” racing option. In light of the cancellation, Waynesboro Parks and Recreation event coordinator Amanda Reeve said registered runners were given the option to switch from the traditional road race to an online race.
“Runners can choose to stay with the race and run it virtually where they can run the distance of 13.1 miles on their own at whatever course they choose, and then submit their results to us,” Reeve said. “Ultimately, it’s their race and their accomplishment, so this way it’s completely up to them on their own to do it and pick their route.”
About 70 runners had already elected for the virtual option as of Tuesday, Reeve noted.
In May, Waynesboro Parks and Rec is tentatively planning to host a packet pick-up time where runners who completed the 13.1 miles on their own can pick up their finisher medal and T-shirt.
However, race results for the virtual Park to Park half marathon will not be published because of the varying courses runners may take — and the race will not count toward Run The Valley, traditionally a series of four races throughout the calendar year where race times are combined to determine overall winners. Without the Park to Park half marathon, only the Summer Extravaganza 5K, Totally 80’s 8K and Fall Foliage 10K will count toward the series.
Reeve said Waynesboro Parks and Rec did look at hosting the half marathon later in the year, but with uncertainty amid COVID-19 and other scheduled city events, it was not possible.
While it’s too late to register for the virtual Park to Park half marathon, Reeve said they encourage everyone to run. For those that were registered and are participating virtually, Waynesboro Parks and Rec has created a Facebook group, “VIRTUAL Park to Park ½ Marathon 2020,” to keep runners motivated.
“The hope is that people will share their run, and it will be a place for people to support each other,” Reeve said. “I think it’ll be nice for people to be able to feel more connected to others that are running the race.”
Runners have until the end of the day on April 3 to decide if they’ll partake in the virtual run option. If not, runners may also defer their race registration to 2021 or seek a refund.
“This is a difficult time for many reasons, including for anyone who has worked hard and trained for a race of this distance,” Reeve said. “We will be cheering each and every one of you on from afar. You are not in this alone.”