Much like the rest of 2020 (and it appears some of 2021), there is no normalcy for the running community and races. We will continue to have virtual “runs” or “challenges”, but please don’t call them races. There is none of the excitement of producing the event, setting it up, and the actual race for the virtual events. This has been going on for 9 months and will continue for at least 3-6 more months (pray for less). Yet it seems that we have adjusted to the events and most of us look forward to them. Those on Strava seemingly join new virtual events weekly and monthly. So for the short term the virtual event is the norm, if that is the right term, and along with training helps keep the sanity.
The virtual version of the revered Phaby-Gray Run spanned 4 days (12/29-1/1), and was to be run solo in a Covid safe manner on a 5K course of your choice which could include the PTP course, be timed by oneself and the results sent to the Empire Runner site. For all of that, 75 Grand Prix points were awarded to all GP recipients. Yet with no chance to race for age group points, no winners shirts and no raffle gifts/giveaways, still more than 50 officially entered and a number of unofficial entrants completed the run. This a testament to the impact of running/training and racing on our lives.
I was more than happy to mark the course and with help of many set up and record the event. I would like to thank Tanya, Dale, Andrea, Margaret and Robert for all of their efforts. With help we were able to provide course maps, videos and written directions on the PTP and 2 close by options. We thank you for your participation and hope you enjoyed the event. Hopefully next year we will be back to a big Resolution race complete with donut holes, winners shirts and age group gifts and a cool raffle.
RACE DAY (uh I mean run day):
As is my norm I showed up at PTP at 07:45 under the shadow of tule fog and sub 35 degree temps. I began course marking at the turnaround when the first runners of the day showed up coming my way. By the time I finished course marking and my warmup, the Sun was breaking through the fog, the temp had increased to 39 and it was time to get in my run. The reality of virtual runs is they are difficult to do solo and maintain a high pace. The rather cool weather is nice and the norm for the Phaby-Gray, as is the early morning tule fog. As I finished my run and warmdown another half a dozen runners completed their runs and all told about 15-20 runners ran on course on New Years Day.
Before I left PTP I noted the beauty of the morning, the crisp clean air and the QUIET. Yes, the quiet. As I realized I didn’t miss the anxiety of race day directing, making sure everything is progressing for setup with race time hanging over my head. I didn’t miss answering questions, course marking, setting up the raffle and working the PA system all at the same time (Did the city come and open the bathrooms?! NO? S#&T!). I was not missing clean up.
That being said, what I was missing was the sounds of all of this going on, the excitement of the sound of the horn and the start, watching a myriad of runners prepare for the start, wishing I, too, would get to race. I was missing the “Happy New Years” well wishing, sharing a moment with many runners and the crew. I was missing ‘people’ as is the new norm (again that word). I missed, “Runners, take your mark, SSEEETTT, (Horn Blast). I missed the opening sprint led by many children (including a few Skanderas) most to be passed in the first half mile as the race takes shape. I missed the 1K return where the race is usually set for the TOP 10.
And of course, I missed the finish line spitting out as many names, times and anecdotes as humanly possible. I missed those from our running community that are no longer with us. And finally I missed the post race bowling tournament (Double Decker), a cold beer, college bowl games on the tele and pizza dinner. Well we will just have to wait until next year.
It was great to see many of you running with Covid safety and the Empire Runners would like to thank you for that. Continued Covid adherence by the running community will allow us to continue providing Virtual Runs on a monthly basis.
Stay healthy, run safe and hope to actually “see” you again.
Empire Runners of Sonoma County