Recreation

No cheating in virtual Run CRANDIC

Ogden column: But, hey, runners are honest people

Runners depart from the starting line for the 1st Annual RUN CRANDIC marathon in Cedar Rapids' New Bo neigborhood on Sun
Runners depart from the starting line for the 1st Annual RUN CRANDIC marathon in Cedar Rapids’ New Bo neigborhood on Sunday, April 30, 2018. The event includes a marathon from New Bo in Cedar Rapids to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City as well as a half marathon from North Liberty to Kinnick Stadium and the 5K RiverRun CRANDIC 5K from Northwest Junior High in Iowa City to the stadium. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

I haven’t run a marathon since ...

Well, it’s been so long, I don’t even remember. My longest run each week these days is 5 miles ... 5.38 if I’m feeling extra spunky and the watch clicks 5.0 with a block or two before I get home.

But I think I can win the Run CRANDIC Marathon this year.

The third annual Run CRANDIC Marathon was supposed to be held April 26, a 26.2-mile race that was going to start in Cedar Rapids this year and end in Coralville.

But, like so many other sporting events, the coronavirus pandemic with its demands of isolation and social distancing has put a temporary end your weekend 5Ks and 10Ks, as well as marathons and half-marathons.

But organizers, knowing the marathon (and half) are different from those weekly 5Ks and 10Ks and demand months of training, wanted to offer entrants something, anything, for all that prep work.

So a virtual race was hatched, with anyone registered able to run the distance on their own and submit their time.

“It was the best lemonade you could make out of this lemon,” said Jim Dwyer, a member of the Run CRANDIC executive committee.

Welcome to road racing in the pandemic era.

So how can I win this thing, even though I haven’t been training or running more than 5.38 miles at a time? Well, in this age of smartwatches, I could easily push the “run” button on my Apple Watch, jump on my bike and go for a 26.2 miles ride.

I can outsmart the smartwatch.

But, alas, that would be cheating. It’s something the Run CRANDIC — and all virtual road races — have to think about, but cheating and running have never really gone hand-in-hand. I mean, really, who gets cheated? Only the cheater.

“Most everybody I’ve seen, (the times) are what we would have been expecting,” said Dwyer, who knows many of the runners in this area as an owner of the Iowa Running Company in Cedar Rapids.

All entrants must show proof they completed their distance — 5K, half-marathon or marathon — and most of these smartwatches not only track time and distance, but also map where you ran.

Dwyer said the committee figured there would be a “very minimal” chance of cheating.

“Runners are a very honest group for the most part,” he said.

The response for this virtual race has been good, Dwyer said. The “race” started at midnight on April 26 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

“We wanted to be as flexible as we could,” he said.

Officials hope to have results a week from today and will send out packets — with shirts, medals and other “swag” — by the end of the month. All registrants are eligible for overall and age-group awards.

“We’ve had a very small subgroup of people who have complained,” Dwyer said. “... a lot of those don’t understand. It is standard for races not to issue refunds, but who reads the fine print?

“For the most part, it’s been overwhelming support and understanding and appreciation.”

Dwyer knows “nothing beats the real deal” and most runners are missing the social aspect of road races as much as the prerace jitters and competition with their peers.

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But we’re still running, still getting outdoors and, as Dwyer said, it’s a pretty decent glass of lemonade.

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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