Events go virtual to keep running social during coronavirus pandemic

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Even as Anchorage as Alaskans hunker down to slow the spread of COVID-19, state health leaders say that outdoor exercise is allowed if an appropriate distance is kept between people.

While individuals are still allowed to get out and exercise, groups, clubs and athletic events are adapting to the changes by creating virtual events.

Skinny Raven typically has a pub run on Tuesdays with a group run from the store, but now runners are keeping up with each other online rather on the pavement.

“We’re trying to continue that tradition of people going out on Tuesdays and working out, but recording their efforts via Strava to gain their pub run points and the other perks that come along with participating,” Mark Iverson with Skinny Raven Events and Timing said.

Strava is a social media app that allows users to create routes, log exercises, participate in challenges and interact with other users. It targets runners, cyclists, and swimmers.

While the app and other fitness tracking apps have been used by athletes for years, for organizers the app has become an important tool for continuing to cultivate the running community.

“Clearly we can’t get out the door together but we’re able to sort of keep each other accountable,” Iverson said.

Earlier in the month, Skinny Raven postponed its Shamrock Shuffle run as the coronavirus pandemic began to become more serious in Alaska. Its next run, the Superhero Showdown, will be completely virtual.

“We’re giving people a month to complete the effort and still doing costume contests. Submit your photos, submit your story, try to maintain some of that running community as we can’t host our events and motivate people,” Iverson said. “Mostly just hope people stay positive. Hopefully as drastic as this is we can rebound, stay positive and help each other out. And through all of that staying active and being outside and getting fresh air is going to be an important part of staying sane for a lot of people as well.”

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