As this weekend marks Homecoming at Waynesburg University, the events will be set-up quite differently this year with some being socially distanced, and the majority taking place virtually. The 5K Homecoming race is no different and for the first time will be held as a virtual race.
Typically held in the morning on the Saturday of Homecoming weekend, the race is held to benefit the Mission Trip Scholarship Fund.
Kelley Hardie, Assistant Dean of Students, said the virtual race will still be beneficial and necessary to assist in the scholarship fund.
“Students participating on a Waynesburg University Service Trip can apply for this scholarship to help off-set the trip cost,” Kelley said. “This scholarship would not be possible without fundraisers and donations.”
Chris Hardie, head Waynesburg cross country coach said the virtual race presents a new challenge for runners.
“The major difference between a virtual race and a ‘typical’ 5K, is the competition,” Chris said. “In a virtual race, you’re racing against yourself and a clock. Unless you have some family running it with you, you will pretty much be on your own and will have to stay motivated internally.”
Racers may not be focusing on the race itself though as the ultimate goal is to give back to the scholarship fund. Kelley believes the participation is important and hopes the virtual format increases registrations amongst alumni.
“Our goal is 100 race participants,” Kelley said. “This is an average number of past race participants. We hope that by hosting this event virtually, more Alum will be able to participate, regardless of location.”
Still, racers will be able to submit their times to Hardie and her staff. These finishing times will be posted on the Waynesburg website to allow runners a chance to see where they land amongst the competition.
The in-person race has historically drawn over 100 people, so the numbers for 2020 aren’t comparable to other years. Chris said it could be difficult for runners to remain focused and motivated due to the lack of in-person interaction.
“In terms of strategy, play to your strengths in a virtual race,” Chris said. “Pick a course that will keep you engaged. For some of us, that’s a course with a lot to see (like a lake or wooded park), and for others that might be an oval on a track or walking trail. Stick to something that will keep you on pace and will keep you motivated.”
Even if you are the type looking to do well, Chris said you must always keep your overall goal in mind.
“Just remember that doing a race is a special thing,” Chris said. “You’re pushing yourself to be a better you. In many cases, you’re fundraising for a good cause, and that’s important. You’re taking steps to be healthier. So, don’t lose sight of some of the bigger things surrounding this race.”
He also provides each racer with one more tip.
“Enjoy every step,” Chris said.