At your own pace: AppKIDS 5K moves to virtual race to accommodate social distancing

Devin Stewart

It is the morning of a 5k you’ve been training for. Normally, you wake up, get ready, arrive at the race, grab a quick snack and line up at the starting line. This time, you wake up, get ready and download a PDF file of a race number and decide when you want to run the AppKIDS 5k race. 

In accordance with social distancing guidelines amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the AppKIDS Superhero 5k race is being “run” virtually from March 28 to April 11. The 5k raises money for activities on AppKIDS Day. The new format provides participants the opportunity to dress up as their favorite superhero and run the race on their own time.

Participants are encouraged to complete the 5k on a treadmill, around the neighborhood or on the original route around App State’s campus.

The 5k is the primary fundraiser event of the year. All proceeds from the race support the Appalachian Kindness In Donations and Service Program, which supports K-12 children in Watauga County Schools who need winter clothing, shoes, food and hygiene products.

“This program is a fixture around Watauga County,” Howard said.

AppKIDS 5k chair, Katie Howard, said that during abnormal times “The race adds a structural calendar element to your day.”

A downloadable race bib was sent to participants on March 27 and personal times will be submitted in a Google Form.

Each day during the race, a drawing gives participants the opportunity to win prizes on the day their time is submitted. Once all times are submitted, based on the honest system, prizes will be given to the top three fastest times for men and women.

Howard said this event comes at a critical time of the year for AppKIDS.

AppKIDS promotes fundraising in the spring before AppKIDS Day in the fall, Howard said.

During AppKIDS Day, 10 students from 10 Watauga County schools are paired with volunteers from App State, Howard said. Each student is provided with breakfast, given $175 to go shopping for winter clothing and ends the day with the chancellor at App State.

“The Boone community is very community-oriented,” Howard said.

During the last two years, the 5k has had complications with participation due to weather, Howard said. However, there are a few more runners this year due to it going virtual.

“This event gives people the opportunity to feel connected in a time of social distancing,” Howard said.