A view of the finish line encapsulates the sentiments of accomplishment, euphoria and certain relief. What if the race has no defined finish line? The Virtual Quarry Rocks 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk and Roll for Special Olympics Forsyth County actualized alternative finish lines across the state. Taking place throughout the entire month of October, participants completed the virtual event on an honor system, logging their final race times through an online race platform.
Special Olympics Forsyth County Local Program Coordinator Carlie Reed was determined to continue the success of last year’s race event, despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. A runner herself, Reed took notice of virtual race opportunities designed to support various community initiatives with heightened safety measures set in place.
“The original plan was to have another in-person 5K,” said Reed. “I still wanted to have this fundraiser because it was so successful last year and I didn’t want to lose that momentum.”
Partnering with Winston-Salem’s Twin City Track Club, Reed learned the process behind facilitating a virtual race event, from registration to logging participant times online. Upon completion of the 5K, racers logged their times through RunSignup, which tracked the placement of each finisher.
From October 3 to October 31, registered participants ran the course of their choosing, establishing symbolic finish lines in neighborhoods, parks and track courses. Email reminders were sent out regularly, reminding those who had reached the finish line to submit their race times.
Once RunSignup had completed the race divisions, winners were contacted and mailed their prizes. Congratulatory prizes were also sent to select participants.
“We asked for prizes from our local community and got a lot of businesses to donate gift cards,” explained Reed. “It was nice to see that these businesses were still willing to donate items, despite their current situation.”
In addition to donations made by race supporters, the registration fee for the event was $20, a fee that contributed to the total funds raised for the benefit of Special Olympics Forsyth County. Among the top fundraisers were students from Forsyth Country Day School, a co-ed private, college preparatory school for preschool, pre-K and K-12, raising a total of $250 towards the race total.
After all finishers crossed their respective finish lines, submitted their race times and received their placements, the funds raised were totaled to $1,388. Keeping the momentum going for Special Olympics Forsyth County, this race rose to the occasion, accomplishing its predetermined goal in a seemingly unprecedented way.
“We really applaud Carlie and Special Olympics Forsyth County for finding an innovative way to keep this important fundraiser in place,” said SONC President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne. “Special Olympics continues to incur costs associated with organizing online and small group in-person sports activities, so fundraisers such as this virtual 5K will help Special Olympics Forsyth County continue to keep its athletes active during the pandemic.”