August Race Director’s Challenge

To say that 2020 has been a rough year so far might be an understatement – professionally and personally. Everyone has a story as to how they have been affected by the virus. Some have had the ultimate loss; the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of security. For those of us that are runners, the loss of road races was a lost social identity. Our running squads are our therapy and our family. Races are our family get-togethers and our social connections, our ability to celebrate our accomplishments and hard work. Our desires to challenge ourselves and achieve new goals. To measure ourselves and remain competitive. They gave us some purpose when other parts of our lives felt out of control. So with races shut down, many of us went reeling. We had goals for the year, we had plans, we had things we wanted to do!

Where most road races are run by runners, the industry pivoted quickly to still try to bring those race experiences to runners in the best way we knew how. While virtual events were not created in March, they certainly took on new meaning this year. The industry developed new technology to replicate a race experience in the Covid world. And while many of us are old-school, die hard runners – we are learning that virtual events/races/challenges certainly can help us satisfy some of our competitive goals.

Personally, for Karen and I, this year has been so tough. If you had told us back in March when we had to cancel Newport that we would still be struggling with Covid in September, I am not sure I would have believed it. I am not sure I would have wanted to believe it.

Karen and I started this company in 2015 and no lie, that first year or two was incredibly tough. We worried, watched every penny, learned what we could from other successful race companies and worked day and night to ensure we would survive.

This year was meant to be year 5. We felt like we were in a good place. We had seen some growth, had good numbers, could budget correctly and continue to evolve to bring even better races to our community. We were so excited for this year.

Well the wheels fell off that wagon pretty early in the year. Each time we tried to make a plan, we would get pulled back down. It is like trying to navigate a storm as the winds keeps shifting. But we will keep swimming up to the surface, we will learn and watch and evolve to bring the best possible event to our community.

Personally, I turn 50 this year, and my oldest son was graduating college. I too had many plans – goal races, fun events and celebrations. All gone. I won’t lie when I say there have been some dark days. But again, we will keep getting up and doing the best we can with what we have been given. In these sink or swim days we are choosing to swim! (We are just repeating Dory the fish in our daily affirmations.)

To that end, I have competed in a few virtual events myself as way to stay competitive, have goals and celebrate this milestone birthday. But because I miss our Rhode Races family, I created an August Challenge that I hope you all will join me in. After running for 30+ years, I break down a bit more easily than I would like so I work hard at cross-training to stay healthy and stretch my running years. This challenge is about that cross-training. It involves running (of course!) but the emphasis is off. Swim, bike, yoga, strength train – all those things we need to do to stay healthy. It is time-based, not distance based, so the goal is to try to build up the time you spend in those other exercises, not just running. Earn rewards and badges for hitting time-based goals. I will be sharing some of the workouts I do, and the locations I get to enjoy and and I would love if you will too.

For many of us, racing is about setting goals to attain, hitting new PRs and PBs, connecting with our running families, having something on the calendar that we are looking forward to and working towards. Virtual events hit all these marks – at least they are for me. Having an online results page is still keeping me competitive, humbled and accountable.

So I hope that you will join me this month, come celebrate with me – celebrate our 5 years, how lucky we are to be able to still do what we love, to focus on our whole health and well-being, connect while apart and #MaintainYourDistance.


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