For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has made exercising a more difficult task than ever before. With gyms now having limited capacities and workout groups being disbanded, access to fitness is at rock bottom. Yet, staying fit and healthy is still important, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
The Gustavus Running Club has been encouraging Gusties to take care of themselves both mentally and physically by issuing the 100 Mile Challenge. The challenge, which began on September 25, calls for participants to run 100 miles in two months.
“To complete the 100 mile challenge, a runner must log 100 miles between September 25 and November 25. If a participant runs approximately two miles per day, they will be on track to complete the challenge. Some of our runners have already exceeded the goal while many are still working at it. The best part about the running club is that we are open and accessible to a variety of skill levels,” Gustavus Running Club Treasurer Carly Turnquist said.
With a few weeks remaining in the challenge, participants are nearing the finish line. A few of the fifty runners have already logged the one hundred miles needed to complete the challenge. With a lack of organized races this fall as a result of the pandemic, some alternative programming was needed to keep members running.
“The 100 Mile Challenge was an idea we came up with as we knew we would not participate in as many races this year, but still wanted to encourage everyone to stay motivated and engaged. Running is a great alternative to going to a gym, which can be tricky during this pandemic. Running allows all of us to stay active and get outside for a little bit each day,” Gustavus Run Club President Kylie Arvidson said.
The pandemic has made access to exercise limited for many people, yet staying healthy has become an increased priority. The Gustavus Run Club issued the 100 Mile Challenge in an effort to make up for the lack of other fitness-related events that would have normally been offered this fall.
“The 100 Mile Challenge was born out of necessity as many of the core elements of running club are not possible this fall. We still wanted to do some sort of programming, but traveling to the cities for races and gathering in a large group is no longer safe. The purpose of the challenge is to motivate members of our community to run consistently, connect with others, and challenge themselves. We wanted our runners to feel a part of something during a time when gathering is difficult,” Turnquist said.
A typical year for the Running Club includes participation in multiple races in the Twin Cities as well as regular group runs around the Gustavus campus.
“Our club typically consists of weekly group runs, as well as participation in various 5ks, 10ks, and a half-marathon in the spring. When it comes to races, we try to do about three in the fall, and three in the spring. We take a break from races in the winter, but still offer group runs throughout the whole year. This year has obviously been different, but we are doing our best to still participate safely in anything we can,” Arvidson said.
While the larger races the club typically participates in are not happening this season, the annual Autumn Woods Classic race was still able to be held in a different fashion.
“This year we have had to get creative as to how to keep everyone involved and engaged with the club. Road races have gone virtual. This means you register for the race and then run it on your own. The Running Club has participated in one virtual race so far this year, which was called the Autumn Woods Classic. This race is one of our favorites as the course is beautiful, but we still had a great time running at Gustavus,” Arvidson said.
The Autumn Woods Classic is typically held in Maple Grove, Minn. on the Elm Creek Park Reserve, but this year runners had to make their own courses closer to home. The Running Club gathered in small groups and kept socially distanced while running the race on the Gustavus campus earlier this semester.
“We are lucky to be a club that can exist almost exclusively outside. Obviously we have had to eliminate events that require us to get in cars together, but we are still able to get outside and run socially distanced. Our core values of self-improvement, inclusivity, and community have remained despite the pandemic,” Turnquist said.
The Gustavus Running Club’s 100 Mile Challenge and alternative races have been encouraging members to stay healthy and active during the pandemic. While gyms and other opportunities to exercise have been limited by COVID-19, running outside remains available for anyone to enjoy.