MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — Races and marathons are sidelined by the coronavirus. Instead of canceling or postponing, local organizers and sponsors have opted to make them virtual.
As participants race at their leisure during a given time period, training coaches and event organizers say they see more people motivated to train.
“They are running, even more, they are walking more, people who are generally not even running they are doing this,” Akemi O’Briant, running coach at Black Dog Running Company said.
Races are canceled but the running doesn’t stop. The Myrtle Beach running store, Black Dog Running Co., has adjusted their hours and service to safely accommodate customers picking up a new pair of running shoes and a new hobby during the coronavirus outbreak.
“They are coming in here saying I need new shoes because I am running more miles now. I feel like I am training for a marathon but I am just trying to keep busy,” O’Briant said.
O’Briant is a training coach at the Black Dog Running Co. and is usually busy helping runners train as this is the time of year the race calendar is ramping up. Races like the annual Señor Frogs 5k in Myrtle Beach and all upcoming running events at Black Dog Running are continuing virtually.
A local organizer of the event with NS Promos said it’s an effort to keep to the community motivated by snapping a picture after your run and posting it on social media with your distance and time.
“People give us feedback about how that helped them get through some of these weeks,” Dawn White, Operations Coordinator at NS Promos said.
White, a passionate runner and race organizer says for many athletes, training has taken a backseat. She’s part of an effort to keep the community active virtually during times of stress and anxiety.
Instead of running in packs, the virtual runs can be walked or run from any location outside or on a treadmill. Participants still receive a bib number, medals, and t-shirts in the mail.
“I think that’s where people are proud because they can post and say look I did my virtual run here is my time,” O’Briant said. “They will even put their time on there and say it was 80 degrees and I was able to get it done.”
“This is the time to make a change. This can relieve stress in your life and we want to encourage you to get active,” White said.
Some organizations left future races in the fall on the schedule until the city determines what to do.