Long time no blog, folks! I haven’t posted anything since March of 2019, as I’ve been focusing mainly on race photography instead of cheer reports. But now is the perfect time to jot down some thoughts. The last time I blogged here, we had an exciting lineup of spring races to look forward to. I ended up cheering on runners in the NYC Half; the Philly Love Run; the Cherry Blossom 10M; and of course, the Boston Marathon.
This time around, of course, things have taken a horrible turn. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, and things will get worse before they get better. Zoom into the running world and you’ll find a community that understands why group runs, social events, and races need to be scrapped or postponed at this time (like all of the events mentioned above), but is deeply disappointed about it. Whether you qualified for the Olympic Trials or just completed your first couch to 5K program, you have likely seen firsthand how strong the running community is. The NYC Half is a major event that drew roughly 25,000 runners last year. All of these individuals signed up not just to complete the miles, but to feel the energy of their fellow participants; hear the roars of the spectators; give thanks to the volunteers; and hold post-race celebrations with their friends and family. A course map does not a race make.
This community-driven aspect of running will suffer as we practice social distancing and attempt to “flatten the curve”. This will be a difficult time for all of us as we tackle solo workouts without high fives from our running friends. And as a group whose mission depends entirely on running events, Cheer Everywhere may be in a bit of a lull for the next few months. But the lives of the most vulnerable segments of our population are at stake, and we must do our part to slow the spread of the disease.
Thanks to the Internet, our world is interconnected in a way that allows us to quickly communicate from a distance. The Internet is why some of us are able to work from home. The Internet is why you’re reading this blog post! It’s also probably why you’ve seen this image about flattening the curve:
And as I learned a few days ago, you can even send virtual cheers to runners through the Internet! If you follow my social media, you’ve seen me talking about this app called Motigo for a few days. But I believe in this app and its potential during this unusual and uncertain time in our lives.
(This isn’t a paid sponsorship, and I have no affiliation with TwoTwelve – the company that developed it.)
Motigo is an app available on iOS and Android that allows you to (1) register for a race to receive cheers and (2) send virtual cheers to other runners (or to yourself). Once you make an account, you can sign up for one of the events on their list (If you’re interested in having a race added to this list, email email@example.com). Then you can tell your friends to look you up (after they make their own account) and record a cheer for you at a mile marker. Below is the prompt you would see if you wanted to send me a cheer for the NYC Half event.
When you’re ready to run (which must be on the same day as the actual event), just hit the “Start Event” button and take off! It will use your GPS to keep track of miles and lower the volume of your music when delivering your cheers.
Some lines you can include for your running friends as your voice plays through their headphones:
You could also use an inside joke, or give a pump up speech. But you’ve only got 30 seconds to do it!
In the long term, this system of virtual cheers cannot replace the real thing. But when we do not have the option to run in groups or participate in road races, we need to encourage each other somehow, and maintain that sense of community. And in my opinion, Motigo is a great tool for the job under this unique set of circumstances.
But no matter how you decide to cope with the new normal: keep running, keep encouraging your fellow runners, and keep on keeping on!