Dave Chopko

Dave Chopko

For over 30 years the Southern Chester County community has actively supported the Kennett Run. Many local nonprofits rely on funds generated by the Run to help them meet their needs. Given the hardships that COVID has caused many of our neighbors, the nonprofits need help more than ever in 2021.

But getting 1,000 runners together in Anson B. Nikon Park in early May for this year’s race, even if permitted by State and Local authorities, seems like a recipe for disaster. The team running the Kennett Run was stuck. COVID put us in real bind. Because of it, we can’t run our traditional Race yet our community needs the funds annually generated by the Run.

After much soul searching, the Kennett Run Charities Board decided to have a virtual race.

What exactly is a virtual race? A virtual race is one where each runner decides generally when and where he/she will run. If you have been running with a running buddy, then you run a personally timed 5K or 10K with your friend. If you’ve been running with a small group, then you time yourself running with your small group.

Or if you just don’t want to be near anyone, then you time yourself running alone. The idea is to get out and run and then compare your time to your friends’ times, your personal best or your 2021 goal. With everyone potentially running a different course, time comparisons between anonymous competitors are meaningless. This is a fun run.

The Run’s board believes that with the backing of the runners and our fantastic sponsors, who have supported this Run for over 30 yr. and enabled the Run to give over $1 million to the nonprofits in our community, will be able to raise the money required to help those most in need in 2021.

Do virtual races really work? In the fall of 2020, several of the more established races throughout the US elected to go virtual. We researched them to discover what the more successful races did. The key seemed to be that the communities which they supported embraced their races. We’re hoping for the same from the Southern Chester County community.

How can our community embrace this race?

• Get lots of runners to sign up for the race.

• Have interested and caring non-runners go to the race’s website (kennettrun.net) and make contributions

• Have family and friends support those running in the race. Back your runner(s) by pledging to give money for each training mile run or for every 10 seconds the runner shaves off her/his target time.

• Post pictures and comments of your training routines onto the race’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kennett.run.1) to help create awareness for the race. If you’re not a runner, post your picture and tell us and others why you’re supporting this race.

• Promote the race to your running friends, (these people can be located anywhere in the US.) even those out of state. The advantage of a virtual run is you can join from anywhere.

• Start friendly competitions on the website. For example, which group can raise more money, ex Unionville High grads vs. ex Kennett High grads.

The rules of the race are very simple. Go to the Race website, kennettrun.net and sign-up for the race. Train as much or as little as you want and run your official 5K/10K between May 15 and May 23, 2021.

We’ve all been cooped-up in our homes for too long. The race will give each of us something for which to train. As Bob Merkle, President of Kennett Run Charities recently said, “if your exercise level has dropped as much as mine has with the isolation requirements from COVID, preparation for the Run is a great thing to do from now until May. It gives you something to shoot for. The Run can be the motivator many of us need to get out and get active again.”

It’s time to do something that’s fun, something that’s good for you and something that shows you care about your community.

David Chopko is a board member at Kennett Run Charities and lives in Kennett Township.
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