Social Distance Running Challenge

by Josh Merlis

ARE Event Productions (AREEP) created the Social Distance Running Challenge as an opportunity for members of our own running community - and absolutely anywhere - to find motivation and a way to still compete with all traditional “in-person” races not being held.

The basic premise is simple: race a 5K, 10K, and/or 13.1M in May.

But there is a lot more to it - both respect to how the event benefits our community and the numerous perks and fun digital experiences that come with being in the series.

Charity of Choice

For starters, when you register ($25), you have the option to make an additional donation to your local Food Bank. Here, in the Capital Region, that is specifically the Regional Food Bank of Northeast NY (RFBNENY), which is a member organization of Feeding America. AREEP matches the first $5 of each donation made as part of each registration. As of 5/3, we have nearly $4,000 raised, primarily for RFBNENY.

The Virtual and Physical Experience

When you sign-up, you are immediately emailed a bib that you can customize.

You can also upload a photo that is shared at the main event coverage page.

All participants receive a super cool medal and there is also the option to purchase a commemorative shirt in any of 3 colors!

The 3 Levels of Achievement

As a participant in the series, you are encouraged to ascend the ranks of what we refer to as the “3 Levels of Achievement.” The first level is reached upon completing your first run (any of the distances) - and you are dubbed a 1-Ply Superstar. When you finish racing a different distance, you earn the badge of being a 2-Ply Achiever. And if you’re able to race all 3 different distances, you ascend to the throne of being the Golden Roll Emperor. And yes, all of these levels have adorable badges you receive that are customized to show your results. Here’s what they look like (but yours would be personalized.)

Motivational Fun

In addition to the 3 Levels of Achievement, every time you complete a race (and you are welcome to race the same distance multiple times), you can indicate if your performance was a new longest race distance or a (new) personal record. On both your personal (private) results page the main (public) results page, such accomplishments are flagged as such. In addition, every time you submit a run you receive a personalized certificate. As such, running your new best time (or farthest distance) is indicated as such, like shown here:

If neither applies (not your farthest nor a personal record), then your certificate gets a custom fun subtitle, like congratulating you on leaving the house that day, or saying you need a pedicure, etc. Such uniqueness surely would encourage us all to run more and see all the silly accolades (or playful insults) we can accumulate.

Motivating One Another

The main event coverage page is definitely the crown jewel that keeps us organized and aware of what we’re up to. On that page, you can see everything about how the series is unfolding for everyone - including neat statistics such as how people are moving through the 3 Levels of Achievement along with seeing how many PRs have been set in the series. As of early Sun, 5/3, here’s a quick look at some of those stats:

The event also has a Facebook page:

Head there to be “part of the conversation” and also share photos and see stories for motivation.

Moving Forward
We have been thrilled with the response, as we have about 450 entered in the series so far. We would love to hit 1,000 participants and feel that such a groundswell not only would clearly have a great impact for a meaningful charity but also of great importance is that we, collectively, will get to experience being part of an online community that is providing constant feedback and encouragement to propel ourselves forward in an environment that is not currently conductive to us getting that push from group settings.

Thanks for reading and we hope you join us!

Josh Merlis

ARE Event Productions

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