With competitive athletics still in the back-burner due to the coronavirus pandemic, virtual running seems to be the only viable precursor to the return of full blown action.
Last weekend, world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge teamed up with other stable-mates, including world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor for a feel of the Lewa Safari Marathon route ahead of the June 27 virtual race prompted by the cancellation of the actual annual run.
On Tuesday, “The Impossible Games,” another virtual competition, was launched.
Here, Kenya’s world 1,500 metres champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Commonwealth gold medallist Elijah Manang’oi will lead a Kenyan “Team Cheruiyot” charge against Norway’s “Team Ingebrigtsen” featuring brothers Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
The virtual duel will run simultaneously in Nairobi and Bislett, Norway, on June 11.
In New York, the New York Road Runners — organisers of the annual New York Marathon — have put together a virtual mile, featuring media, that will also line up celebrities such as former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, ex-New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi along with Olympic distance running medallists Meb Keflezighi and Jenny Simpson. Athletes can run any time between May 29 and June 7.
Meanwhile, Netherlands’ NN Running Team — featuring Kipchoge and Kamworor — also announced they are putting together a virtual competition next weekend.
The NN Running Team, together with their principal partners NN Group and Maurten, Thursday unveiled the worldwide virtual team relay marathon to be run on June 6 and 7.
TEAM OF FOUR
“Participants can have the chance to run against, or even possibly with, NN Running Team superstars such as Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, Joshua Cheptegei and Geoffrey Kamworor as a teammate to run a virtual relay marathon race,” a statement from the NN Running team announced on Thursday.
“People around the world can form a team of four to cover the marathon distance, as we believe that running is a team sport,” the statement said.
“Each individual runner covers 10.5 kilometres alone so the team completes a full marathon together. This allows participants to safely run solo in their own locations while running in a team via the virtual standings,” the statement explained.
“To make it even better, each entered team has the chance to be among the 10 teams that will see the addition of an NN Running Team superstar to join their squad.”
Registration for the race opens on Saturday and runners can register online at www.nnrunningteam.com/marathon free of charge.
“Myself and my teammates are really looking forward to join the relay in this wonderful initiative,” Kipchoge said on Thursday.
“It has been an unusual time whereby all runners had to readjust their plans after having prepared well towards their own goals for this past spring season.
“We all look forward to a positive future and I believe that this a great first step in that direction. Marathon is a sport whereby elite athletes and fun runners are actually all racing in the same race.
“It’s what makes our sport unique and I find the essence of this to be beautiful.
“Every runner has their own pace, their own background and their own motives to why they run. I am very excited to join someone’s team whereby we can all have a really positive experience, run towards a goal together and share stories afterwards, just like we normally would after a race together.”
Jos Hermens, the director of the NN Running Team, says the aim of the race is to bring runners together.
“We all miss the excitement of the big city marathons and hopefully this will bring our athletes and fans together. In these difficult times we like to challenge people to stay active and to go for a run,” Hermens said.
Olof Sköld, CEO Maurten mentioned: “We think that a running world is a better world, so keep on running. When nothing is like it used to be, running as one is even more important. Because we´re all in this together.”
“This project is the perfect showcase for all of us that running is a team sport, especially in challenging times. Every runner can join and it is great to see the excitement building worldwide, also amongst the runners of the NN Running Team. We are proud supporter of all runners,” stated Remco Barbier, Head of Branding NN Group.
Reporting with resources from NN Running Team and New York Road Runners.