By Amanda Folk - “Social distancing has likely been difficult, even for the most introverted runner. In the first 2 months of 2020, prior to the COVID-19 disruption, the Columbus Westside Running Club (CWRC) was averaging 75 members each week for our Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday group runs combined. Clearly, our members enjoy the camaraderie that our group runs provide. However, CWRC has found creative ways to keep our members engaged and motivated while also encouraging safety and adherence to public health guidelines.

Using our popular discussion group on Facebook, CWRC quickly began sharing creative challenges to encourage our members to continue moving and stay fit. These challenges included posting your mileage and sharing pictures with CWRC yard signs along the route, beautiful flowers that were starting to bloom, and selfies of our members in their favorite CWRC gear. CWRC also participated in and won the Columbus Running Company’s Marathon Contest, with 85 members logging a combined 2,354 miles in a single week!

Over time, however, it became clear that social distancing would be more like a marathon than a sprint, and CWRC found longer-term strategies for continuing to engage and motivate members. Building on the contest success, CWRC decided that we were going to try to go around the world by the July 4th weekend. We currently have 70 members regularly contributing to this challenge and logging their miles. At the time of writing, we’re currently getting ready to leave the Philippines heading to Australia.

The July 4th weekend is particularly meaningful for CWRC this year, as we had planned to hold our 3rd annual Hilltop USA 5K to raise money for our local veterans. We had sold out the 5K the two previous years and wanted a three-peat in 2020. While COVID-19 disrupted our plans to hold another in-person race, we were able to meet our goal of 500 virtual participants 6 weeks before the race! We have been overwhelmed by the support of the broader running community, and CWRC plans to use this as an opportunity to see just how much money we can raise for our veterans.

We hope that you will join us for a group run or for a future Hilltop USA 5K! All paces are welcome, especially yours.”

For more information on the Columbus Westside Running Club - https://www.cwrunclub.com

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