With the ninth annual Band on the Run (BOTR) postponed due to COVID-19, race directors didn’t want to let the event slip by without acknowledging the hard work of those who had been training for the popular race. So they created a virtual event for everyone to participate “Alone But Together” on June 13.
The virtual event kicked off at 9 a.m. with the amazing energy of host Frances Turk.
“I told her that I wanted to do everything we could to make the experience as fun and high-energy as the in-person event,” said race co-director Justine Brown. “She made that happen. In our practice sessions leading up to the event she just kept reworking her sound system until she had everything working just right for the Zoom environment. And then she kept her high energy flowing right from the race start, when she sent everyone out with the traditional Band on the Run music playing, to congratulating everyone as they virtually crossed the finish line.”
Race co-director Rob Horton also streamed live on the Zoom app until 11 a.m. highlighting runners and walkers along the way with some virtual entertainment from Tobin Spring.
Jane Wolfe was back with her cheering squad, who rode their bikes to bring their energy—and some crazy hair—to the streets. As Frances Turk said, “Everyone needs a little Jane.”
BOTR participants were encouraged to stick to their own neighbourhoods to ensure the safety of everyone and to follow the social distancing guidelines. Participants who were taking part in the Alone But Together event at home were able to use a treadmill to run or walk their distance and record their time manually online. Many people posted that they beat their previous run times and goals for the event.
For BOTR 2020, participants were able to sign up for free advance virtual training. “A big thanks to Jess Adam who worked so hard with the 450-plus people that had signed up for the free online virtual training plans that took place all spring,” said Brown. “These started a few weeks before COVID-19 and she went so far above and beyond—making videos every week and encouraging and supporting every participant that needed it through the Facebook group. By the time it came to race day, Jess’s flock was well prepared.”
Without the need for her usual behind-the-scenes work on event day, Brown was able to participate in the 5k this year. And Horton’s dad, Ken Horton, did BOTR for the first time this year rather than doing the early morning set up—it was his first 5k. He was very dedicated to his training, going out three times a week to prepare for this event and building his endurance steadily.
Casey Jagosky started training on March 1 with the BOTR training program as this year, which is her fourth year participating, was her first 10k run. “I’m running four 10k runs this year to celebrate turning 40…I’m looking forward to the live September event and I’m definitely looking forward to next year.”
Brown said a big thank you to sponsors Tulloch Engineering who pulled together a group for the virtual run. Mark Tulloch ran the 10k in 53:04, Christine Tulloch ran it in 1:01:34, and their social circle friend Jen Sjaarda ran it in 1:01:38. “Great results, Team Tulloch,” said Turk over the Zoom waves.
Young Sully Spratoff from Riverside P.S. has run in the kids’ race previously but ran his first 5k route this year with an amazing time of 35:34.
Many local residents participated, but the event also virtually connected with participants in other parts of Ontario and beyond, including a family in Rochester NY whose ran and biked the 5K.
Brown said many participants were surprised at how much it felt like a ‘real’ race even though they were running on their own and not on the official race routes.
Clockwise from top left: 1. Cheryl Durand and Kim Ryan of Guelph. Durand has participated in every year of BOTR. 2. Diane Gagnon (front) ran 5k, Sarah Flynn (back left) ran 5k, and Anne Lindsay (back right) ran the 10k. 3. Dan Deemert and Adam Deemert both ran the 5k and Angela Deemert took on the 10k. (all supplied)
Proceeds from the event supported Community Living Huntsville (CLH). The 869 registered participants together raised $1102 for the charity.
Suzanne Willett, CLH executive director, participated in the 10k and said she is thankful for the participants who registered and contributed to such an important cause. Community Living Huntsville supports, serves, and advocates for approximately 300 children and adults in North Muskoka who live with the label of intellectual disability. Their vision is to open doors to an inclusive community.
“We are able to help people become independent and find meaningful ways to live, learn and play in their community,” said Willett. Visit clhuntsville.ca to learn more about the organization’s work.
“The event turned out to be really fun.” said Brown. “Fun and celebration is what Band on the Run is all about. I’m not surprised at all that Huntsville as a community, and many of our long-time BOTR participants, were able to be so flexible in making this work.”
The live Band on the Run event is scheduled for September 12, 2020.
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