THE COVID-19 pandemic has bred yet another innovative idea from a Limestone Coast sporting group.
Harry Thurlings has introduced a running challenge through the Mount Gambier Runners Group on Facebook, which is aimed to keep people motivated and active during this uncertain time.
Using the Strava app runners are able to complete a weekly course and record their time, where Thurlings can then collect the individual performances and enter them into a spreadsheet to determine the winner.
With the restrictions in place regarding public gatherings and activities, being able to complete the course in your own time eliminates the risk of running in groups.
At the time of print Thurlings said there were 59 runners signed up for his Strava Virtual Challenge, but he confessed the whole operation was a borrowed idea.
“I saw a post from the Millicent runner’s group which is run by Brad Tilley and he had started up this virtual run where he creates a route every week and everyone can run it any time during that week,” he said.
“I thought it was fantastic.
“I sat on it for about a week and then I called him up and said ‘look, this is a really good idea, if I wanted to pinch it would you be offended?’.
“I know him reasonably well and he said go for it – he supplied me with the spreadsheet and everything.”
The challenge has a handicap system in place, with a formula used on the spreadsheet to predict the winner each week, so it will not always be the fastest runner who will claim the honours.
“I create a course every week and what I have decided to do is one week we will do a road-type course and the next we will do a trail course which will be up at the lakes area,” Thurlings said.
“We are in our first week at the moment and probably about 15 of them have already run it.
“I just collect the times off Strava and put them in my spreadsheet, with a leaderboard going.”
Thurlings said the aim of the challenge was to “keep everyone motivated” and give them something to look forward to while there are limited activities available.
“A lot of the runners have come from parkrun,” he said.
“Parkrun has been cancelled as well so they have nothing to look forward to and the social side of parkrun is gone.
“All this is just designed to motivate people to get out and run and keep going until the whole coronavirus situation finishes and we can get back to events.”
The response received from his initial post surprised Thurlings and he is glad to see so many people on board with the idea.
While it is early days yet, he said the aim would be to keep it going at least until parkrun is able to start again.
“If the interest stays there my initial thought was we will go until parkrun restarts,” Thurlings said.
“But who knows, we might keep doing it – I have not decided at this stage.”
Thurlings is passionate about remaining active during this pandemic and while he encourages everyone to get outdoors when they can, he said it must be done in a safe manner.
“I always mention the COVID-19 restrictions about gathering and on every post that line is on there,” he said.
“The last thing we want is for 59 runners to be running out there together.
“On Strava you can see what time they went out and no one has gone at the same time yet.”
Those interested in entering the challenge can do so through the Mount Gambier Runners Group on Facebook.