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East Coast running groups address challenges during pandemic



Some Maritime running events are going virtual as social-distancing presses pause on large events.

Running races can mean lots of time to socialize, whether it's talking out pre-race jitters in the registration line or milling around afterward to enjoy a half a banana while cheering on others. Things can get crowded, so public health officials have put a stop to these event for now.

In April, Troy Musseau of Atlantic Chip Sport Timing watched his summer bookings fade away. Musseau and his eight staff travel the region setting up timing equipment for more than 130 races each year. They miss the camaraderie.

“We just grow to know, like and love these people, and you’re not seeing them anymore. So, as a means to try and draw everyone together, we figured it was a good idea to do something like this,” he said

Musseau has organized the Good Clean Run, his first virtual running race.

Participants register online, a medal, fabric face mask and a race number arrive in the mail ahead of time. Then, between 8 a.m. on Friday, July 17, and Monday, Aug. 3 at noon, participants run their distance and post their time online to his website.

Musseau’s online event is a way to connect runners socially, if not competitively.

“The runners are still running. I mean these people, the ones who have been out running for years, they’re committed to being fit and they’re out running."

Kevin McCarville, president of P.E.I. Roadrunners, knows that most of the Island events are all about the camaraderie.

“They’re not really races, they’re runs,” said McCavrville, who has been watching P.E.I. events drop off the calendar every week.

Close to a dozen events have already been cancelled on the Roadrunners’ website, including the annual general meeting and awards banquet.

McCarville hasn’t heard of any P.E.I. events turning to a virtual option, and postponing events during P.E.I.’s short summer is tricky.

“There’s hardly an open Saturday from the first of May until the end of November. So if you go to re-schedule you’re just taking your people from somebody else,” said McCarville.

Financially, the schedule changes won’t impact the organization much as P.E.I. Roadrunners operates on a small budget. They have seen a small drop in memberships, their main income-generator, but McCarville seemed pleased their numbers were close to 2019’s.

“The runners are still running. I mean these people, the ones who have been out running for years, they’re committed to being fit and they’re out running,” he said.

BACK ON TRACK

As restrictions ease, McCarville is hopeful things can get back on track.

“We’ve sent some questions off through Sport P.E.I. to be addressed by the public health office to see when and how we might get going,” he said.

The P.E.I. Public Health Office has announced Phase III will begin June 1, so McCarville has set his sights on hosting the popular Fulton Campbell and Laura Lee Walsh 5K, 10K and half-marathon in the Montague area June 27.

McCarville has some ideas for how to keep runners safe including online-only registration and staggered starts, if necessary.

“In my view it would be possible to pull this off, but we want to take our lead from Dr. Morrison and her crew.”

In the meantime, Roadrunner volunteers will start to announce the 2019 season award winners next week on their website: peiroadrunners.ca


Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. She can be reached at: alison.jenkins@journalpioneer.com

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