CANTON — Right about now, runners training for the Maple Run Half Marathon are getting into long weekend runs. Many will have been training since January for the 13.1-mile race on April 18.
They put in those long miles, often alone, in anticipation of a spring celebration, running in a crowd, seeing their running friends after a long winter and testing their training against the country road course.
Now, with social distancing the rule of the land, race organizers have turned the Maple Run into a virtual race.
Runners, if they choose to participate, will run the race alone and report their results to the race organizers when they finish.
“It’s a model we borrowed from other areas of the country,” said Amanda Stopa Goldstein, founder of the Maple Run.
By the time it became apparent that the coronavirus was going to make a mass gathering of hundreds of runners impossible, the medals had already been ordered, Ms. Goldstein said. The sweatshirts had been designed.
“We wanted to give them a reason to celebrate the training they have done,” she said.
Runners who want to participate in the virtual race, and this includes those signed up for both the 5K and half marathon, have to contact the race organizers at themaplerun.com. The usual packet of race gear, a numbered bib, a sweatshirt, medal and small bottle of maple syrup, will either be mailed to racers or available for pickup at Grasse River Outfitters in downtown Canton.
Ms. Goldstein said the goal is to get all packets in the mail by April 13.
Runners who don’t want to participate and have already signed up can request a refund of 80% of their entrance fee or can donate their fee and 100 percent will go to area cross-country programs that the race benefits.
Organizers want runners to provide details on race day with photos and times and reactions. If they give permission, anything submitted will be posted on the race site to simulate what might have happened if they had all run together.
“The Maple Run team will share as much as we can on April 18,” Ms. Goldstein said. “We are in this together.”