ETSU virtual 5K shows that 'fitness isn't canceled'

Brandon Paykamian • Apr 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM

As East Tennessee State University students continue their spring courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ETSU Department of Campus Recreation has looked to find ways to promote fitness remotely.

On Friday, the university hosted the free Fitness Friday Virtual 5K. Savanna Moeller, an avid runner and coordinator of operations and aquatics for the department, recently proposed hosting a 5K that participants could complete anytime, anywhere.

While many public athletic events have been canceled over the past few weeks, Moeller said she wanted to show that “fitness isn’t canceled.” She said the virtual 5K allowed participants to get involved while abiding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing.

“We were offering so many different programs in-person, and we weren’t doing anything virtual yet. When things moved to quarantine because of COVID-19, we were like, ‘Alright, now we need to start doing some more virtual fitness contests,’ and we started looking into what other options there were for us to do,” she said.

“A lot of the races I had planned on running ended up becoming canceled, or they transitioned into a virtual run where you do whatever the distance of the race is wherever you’re at so you’re still in line with social distancing practices,” she added. “That’s kind of where the idea came about.”

The virtual 5K was open all day to members of the ETSU community and the public. After Moeller participated with an early morning stroll around her neighborhood, she noticed more than 150 participants registered by around noon. Some registered from other states, including Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

“The race started taking off just by word of mouth,” she said. “Right now, we have participants in at least 12 different states, and we have a participant in Madrid, Spain, now.”

Runners were encouraged to post pictures and videos of their runs on social media with the hashtag “#bucsstayactive” and log their times using Endomondo, a social fitness network application that allows users to track fitness statistics.  

Moeller said participants in locations on lockdown were allowed to participate in the 5K from their homes, and those running in groups were encouraged to stay at least 6 feet apart to abide by CDC recommendations. All participants were set to receive a finisher’s certificate, and ETSU members were eligible for prizes.

“There are people who are finding a way, and I feel like, with fitness and health, we’ll always find a way,” she said.

Because of the interest in this event, Moeller said ETSU Campus Recreation will host another virtual run later this spring, with more details to be announced at a later date.

“In May, we’re looking to do a month-long event called ‘Marathon May’ where participants have the opportunity to run a distance of a marathon throughout the entire month of May,” Moeller said.

For more information on future ETSU Campus Recreation events, follow them on social media or visit www.etsu.edu/campusrec.


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