Just a week before the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate was scheduled to take place, more than 2,500 runners received the news that the event was canceled due to COVID-19. “To say we were disappointed we had to cancel is an understatement,” race representatives said in a press release. “With runners coming from nearly all 50 states, we knew our participants had made many personal sacrifices and trained on average 4-6 months for these endurance events.”
Determined to make the most of it anyway, the marathon decided to go virtual.
Four hundred and fifteen runners joined the online event, running their full or half marathons on their own at home. “We received photos from an almost empty New York City, snowy trails from Arkansas, and chalk-covered sidewalks from children who cheered on their mom’s and dad’s,” race representatives said.
“The trails at Biltmore may have been more inviting but what the heck, adaptability is the key,” said Bruce Nelson of Arkansas, who participated in the virtual race.
“I had fun exploring all the New York tourist spots I usually avoid,” said Shirley Mei, who ran her race in New York City. Mei also used her run as a chance to fundraise for cancer research with Team in Training. “The miles are meaningful, but the funds raised mean even more,” she said.
Race Director Daphne Kirkwood also got in on the action, running her first half marathon after being diagnosed with lymphoma nearly two years ago. “I ran in solidarity today with all the virtual runners participating in the Asheville Marathon,” Kirkwood said. “Today I celebrate with all of you, we are in this together. Running will help us through this tough time we are all in. Keep running. Keep hope. Keep believing. Keep loving.”
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