By KATHLEEN SHAW
Daily News-Record 3/28/20
On Friday night, Alysia Davis laid out her 8-year-old daughter’s yoga mat and miniature kettle bells so together they could work out. Social-distancing has meant increased family time across the globe and, together, households in the Valley shared a drink and a workout yesterday for a virtual Run, Sweat & Beers race.
For years, VA Momentum has hosted Run, Sweat & Beers every fourth Friday of the month from March to September to run 1, 3 or 5 miles at no charge and celebrate with a discounted pint at Brothers Craft Brewing. Friday marked the first time the race has gone online to comply with safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of our favorite days of the year is the first day of Run, Sweat and Beer, so it’s a bummer,” co-founder of VA Momentum Kevin Gibson said. “The nice thing is you can do it on your own time; you can do it in your neighborhood. It’s not all negative. It’s a good alternative given the circumstances, but the company, personally, would never choose a virtual option over an in-person option if the in-person was possible.”
Davis participated in VA Momentum’s first virtual race, Run, Sweat & Beers, by exercising along to Daily Burn videos and toasting with a glass of red wine. Previously having completed the Turkey Trot and Valley 4th RUN, Davis said she decided to join the isolated race in solidarity of VA Momentum.
Gibson said runners signed up for approaching races have extended patience and a figurative grace period to recover from the sudden societal shift, but he expects the racing industry will suffer significantly from this period.
“I wish I had a crystal ball and I could look into the future and know what our world looks like. … We’re in the business of bringing people together,” Gibson said. “Our mantra right now is one day at a time. … Our goal is to continue to keep a super positive mindset to be innovative as we think about the future as best as we can be, but we’re taking things one day at a time.”
“I know that it’s a hard time for people in the race industry, and I want to show my support,” Davis said.
As a compromise to fit the tradition of celebrating a spring run with strangers at the brewery, VA Momentum encouraged participants to post a virtual toast with their drink of choice after finishing their workout.
On Facebook, posts poured in from athletes and families taking the workout into their own hands and saluting fellow runners with a drink.
Justine Pasco shared a photo looking over the mountains after a hike, J.R. Snow posed with a bottle of Brothers Craft Brewing’s Great Outdoors and Gibson snapped a selfie post-run outside Turner Pavilion.
Lee McNeely took to neighboring streets, looping around McGaheysville to rack up miles toward virtual races during social isolation. In addition to Friday’s Run, Sweat, & Beers race, Mc-Neely has also signed up for the virtual Blue Ridge Half Marathon.
Whether online or in a physical pack, McNeely said he loves running as part of a collection of like-minded individuals.
“I’m in. I’ve had six races canceled, and any opportunity to connect with our community I’ll take,” he said.
With various planned races moving online to maintain social distancing, VA Momentum has decided to postpone its races for the foreseeable season. Gibson said nearly 400 kids had registered for the Smoothie Man’s Mud Mile, scheduled for April 15 at Hillandale Park, which has been postponed to Sept. 19.
“We’re definitely in a place where we’re going to struggle through it. At this point, all signups for any paid events have pretty much come to a halt. This isn’t a good time to ask people to sign up for things because I think the uncertainty of when this is going to end, for lack of a better term, is so unknown,” Gibson said. “We’re making decisions that are ultimately best for the customer, for the community.”