There’s always room for a few more when it’s this type of gathering, even during a pandemic.
The second annual “Together Individually” Canada Day Run/Walk will be held on Thursday morning. Hosted by the Brockville Road Runners Club, the July 1 event is an alternative to the virtual race format necessitated by COVID-19.
Participants will exit their homes at 10 a.m. on Thursday and set out on a 1-km or 5-km course from their front doors and in their own communities; the front door also serves as the finish line.
The event is open to all fitness levels, and participants do not have to be members of the club. Times are not being recorded, and race results are not being compiled.
“It’s a time for family to get out and enjoy the sport of running,” said organizer Ed Eby, a club director.
Last year’s run/walk attracted about 170 participants and raised $4,045 for the Brockville and Area Food Bank. A donation made as part of the online registration process serves as the entry fee.
As of Saturday, 93 had registered for the 2021 event. Their donations totalled $2,130. Ninety-seven people had signed up as of Monday morning.
By comparison, there were just 41 registered five days before the 2020 run/walk. Donations at that time totalled $1,225.
“I’d forgotten how slow it was last year,” remarked Eby, who noted that things picked up rapidly in the final days before the inaugural fundraiser.
He believes part of the initial increase was due to the commemorative race bibs Eby designed. There was a limited supply of the special bibs, all of which have now been distributed.
Eby indicated that many runners are really looking forward to the day when regular races can return.
“What we are hearing is fatigue from virtual runs… people go out, and there is no first place,” he said.
One of the first things said by some of the July 1 event participants who picked up their bibs is: “Do you know if we’re going to have a real race for TIP,” Eby stated. TIP is the Thousand Islands Parkway event held in Rockport in September.
In acknowledging that all types of Canada Day events are being called into question this month because of residential schools and the plight of Indigenous Canadians, Eby indicated he had not heard any talk of anyone deciding not to take part in the run/walk.
“Our main focus was not on getting out to celebrate Canada Day,” he said. “Our main focus was a fundraiser for the food bank, and we use our traditional Canada Day race to be able to do that, and that’s how we’ve been promoting it.”
Food bank officials pointed out recently that a donation of $1 enables the non-profit organization to obtain and distribute $4 worth of food to clients. Families that rely on the food bank are the people who would be hurt if there were no fundraising run/walk, according to Eby.
To sign up or for more information about the food bank fundraiser, visit brockvilleroadrunners.com. Tax receipts are available for donations of $20 or more.
As for the fate of TIP later this summer, Eby raised the possibility that the Thousand Islands event might end up being delayed one month if it means allowing the run to return to Rockport instead of being virtual.
He said that, as of now, it is “unlikely” that TIP could be held in its traditional form in mid-September.