RUNNERS from all over the country get an opportunity to compete against each other even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association stages the Fine Guard Sport National Half-Marathon Virtual Challenge.
The virtual race is set from February 22 to 28, where runners will compete indoor in a treadmill or outdoor anywhere in the Philippines.
Under the mechanics of the virtual race, participants will run a half-marathon or 21 kilometers and submit photos of their activity as well as screenshots from fitness tracking tools such as Garmin Connect, Training Peak, and Polar, and apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, and Map My Run for verification of the time and distance of their run.
Participants are also required to comply with the minimum health standards of the government.
The focus of the competition is not so much to the time of the participant’s run but to their creativity through the photos each runner submitted to organizers with the most photogenic course awards and most unlimited runner awards to be given away.
Patafa also said it staged the event in order to encourage running with the absence of face-to-face competitions due to the coronavirus situation in which large gatherings are not allowed.
“This is one way of adjusting to the conditions without neglecting the sport and it’s one way of restarting and promoting the sport and in this particular case, marathon,” said Patafa president Philip Ella Juico in a recent virtual press conference.
“We have a situation. We have the pandemic. But we refuse to roll over and forget about everything. We will continue with our activities in Patafa with the help of organizations like Fine Guard,” Juico added.
Fine Guard Sport, a facemask specifically for the use of people with an active lifestyle, is headed by James Lafferty, an American coach who has been supporting Philippine athletics since the days of Marestella Torres’ campaign in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“The idea of the virtual half-marathon is coming from Edward [Kho, Patafa official] and Popoy [Juico] and I said, ‘Okay we will sponsor it and help out’. It’s great to be here and support the project,” said Lafferty, who is also supporting the Olympic bid of pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Registration period of the event also supported by Gatorade is from January 25 to February 21 at the philathletics.org where other details of the event are available.