The global pandemic caused by the new coronavirus may have cost runners the opportunity to gather together for the Trail Animals Running Club’s popular Spring Classic trail races on April 25, but the pandemic couldn’t stop the race’s spirit.
When canceling the official event, Race Directors Annie Gagliardi and Michael McDuffie offered runners a virtual alternative. Rather than having participants run the 50K, marathon, half marathon or 10K distance that they had signed up for and then submit data to prove their effort, Gagliardi and McDuffie instead outlined creative categories for runners to pursue—Longest Run, Best Picture, Best Video, Best Aid Station, Best GPS Art, Most Socially Distanced, Best Route, and Most Vertical Gain.
“We just wanted to make a space for people to plan and do something that was meaningful to them, whether in a serious way or in terms of thinking up something fun to do while quarantined,” Gagliardi said. “It also gave people a chance to modify their plans if their training plans were messed up, or if their normal routes and favorite spots were inaccessible.”
Runners had from April 17 through April 26 to come up with their routes, complete them and submit them to the race directors for consideration. The categories evolved as routes were submitted, and ultimately they were tailored to eight individuals whose creativity shined. The winners were announced on May 10. The winners and their categories were the following:
- Josh Katzman won “A Run Most Katzman” for his 40.1-mile ACROSS Lexington effort that connected several trail systems in Lexington.
- Dima Feinhaus won “Most Likely to Run the Boston Marathon” for his Boston Marathon memorial run.
- Ted Chan won “Renaissance Chan” for his effort to draw a map of the United States with the GPS profile of his 11.21-mile run.
- Howie Breinan won “”How-ie do that?” for his “tornado” workout that required zig-zagging up and down a steep hill and touching each of the bollards in a fence at the bottom and the parking lot above which created the appearance of a tornado on his Strava profile.
- Ryan Williams won “Most Likely to Design a TARC Course” for crafting a twisty-turny, winding 31.8-mile run through Willard Brook State Forest and Pearl Hill State Park.
- Katherine Kulig Aurilio won “Spirit of the Boston Trail Runner” for her exploratory run of the Middlesex Fells after making a donation to Bread of Life, a local charity that helps those in their time of need.
- Maciek Nowicki won “So Much Fells” for his 55.9-kilometer run while completing several loops on the trails of the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
- Tiffany Fischer won “On and On and On and On” for her 32.2-mile run that was broken up over the course of six runs on the same day.
For their creative efforts, each of the winners earned a hand-made finisher’s medal that was crafted by Gagliardi and McDuffie.