KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Runners are off to the virtual races! The 2020 Kalamazoo Marathon and Borgess Run are pressing forward amid restrictions due to COVID-19. Despite a cancellation of the in-person races on March 23, organizers are now offering the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon virtually.
“This race is a tradition in Kalamazoo, and it needs to be honored by all of us out there to support it,” Western Michigan University Director of University Recreation Amy Seth says.
WMU employees who want to participate can register online for free through May 10 using registration code: WMU at borgessrun.com. This opportunity is only for WMU faculty and staff, any family and friends will need to pay the $25 registration fee. Anyone who previously registered for the in-person race will need to register again for the virtual race.
Runners can complete their designated race on their own time between May 1 through May 17. Race organizers have created 27 course maps in Kalamazoo County for each of the race lengths, or runners can create their own route.
Once the race is completed, runners will report their time to qualify for a t-shirt and medal to be distributed after campus reopens. Results for the races will be posted through the Kalamazoo Marathon and Borgess Run websites.
An UNLIKELY RUNNER
Four years ago, WMU Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Clara Davis did something she never pictured herself doing: she laced up her running shoes.
“I never thought I would be a runner. I used to joke that when I saw people running for recreation that they must be getting chased by a bear,” she says.
Davis took part in a fundraiser in January for Forgotten Man Ministries where she was challenged to run one mile every day. Using that as her base, she created a training program, including intervals, hills and long runs. From one mile, to two and then three, Davis knew she was ready for more, she just didn’t know it would be in the middle of a pandemic.
“I was not planning on doing the 5K before it was canceled. Huge races like this intimidate me, so I prefer to run smaller races,” she says. “Getting free [registration] as a WMU employee, and the race being virtual made this an easy decision for me to participate.”
Now this May, Davis will lace up her running shoes and take on her race. For those thinking about joining her virtually in the 2020 Borgess Run, Davis has some advice.
“For first-time runners, I recommend a good pair of shoes. If your feet hurt, so will everything else.”
Davis says it’s been a journey learning to run, full of opportunities to quit along the way, but she found setting a goal and sticking to it allowed her to persevere and improve her health.
“This helped me to stay focused and motivated,” she says. “On those really tough days, it doesn’t matter if I am getting 10 seconds faster, but getting off my medication always matters.”
Friends first, coworkers second, and now Kim Hemingway and Thomas Delves will be running buddies through the Kalamazoo Marathon virtual finish line.
“It is my first marathon and I am very excited,” says Delves, assistant athletic director of Bronco Productions. “[Kim] is the best training partner, and I couldn't be doing this alone.”
With 30 years of running under her belt, Hemingway is no stranger to races. The coordinator for athletic insurance and medical insurance claims has celebrated accomplishments from 5Ks, half-marathons, a 25K and a marathon, with a second on deck.
Delves is more of a swimmer, with a competitive streak.
“I haven’t really ever been a ‘runner’ per se,” he says. “The times I ran [previously] were usually when my brother and his wife were doing a race and I would join that race to try and beat them; I haven’t lost to them for the books.”
Now he’s extending far beyond his 10K history, with a 26.2-mile run on his horizon.
“It is for sure tough at times to be motivated to run in some of the weather, but overall it has been a great challenge.”
Starting his training in January, long before the Kalamazoo Marathon was forced to cancel the in-person event, COVID-19 threw a curve ball at him.
“I didn’t really know how to feel [when it got canceled]. All I knew was that I’m going to run 26.2 miles sometime in May, because there was no way I trained that much not to run it,” says Delves.
Socially distant but mentally in sync, Hemingway says she was determined to find a virtual marathon to take on. Then, she got her wish.
“Once [Borgess] Run Camp disbanded with the COVID-19 outbreak, I reached out to Thomas to see if he wanted to run together. I figured it would give each of us company,” she says.
“She is the best training partner of all time,” Delves says. “She is so positive and literally never stops running. Kim could run 20 miles and then be ready to go to a workout class. It’s crazy.”
Delves and Hemingway are planning to run the virtual Kalamazoo Marathon together—while observing social distancing—in early May. They say training continues throughout the week and weekend, and work schedule adjustments have actually helped them move forward.
“Now that my work day has changed because of the COVID-19 closures, I feel like I have more time to get my runs in during different times of the day and week,” says Hemingway. “I think right now with the Stay Home order from the governor, people are turning to walking or even running just to get outside to get fresh air and some exercise. It’s never too late to start running. Start out slow, and gradually increase your time. It’s all about time on your feet.”
A notion Hemingway has brought to her training time with Delves for his first marathon, fostering an accomplishment they can share.
“I am excited to be training and running with [Thomas] on our race day to see him achieve his goal.”
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