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Ontario running club’s virtual relay to Boston for Marathon Monday

The Nomads running club couldn't race the Boston Marathon this year, so they decided to create their own event instead

Every April, many members of the Nomads running club of Mississauga, Ont. take a road trip to Hopkinton, Mass., for the Boston Marathon. This year, though, the marathon—which would have been run todayhas been postponed until September, and the Nomads are stuck at home, not able to race or even train together any more due to COVID-19. Their creative approach to the situation was for 40 of the club’s runners to run a virtual relay to cover the distance from Mississauga to Boston. This morning, the Nomads finished their Boston Marathon, even though they weren’t together or there in person.

Group photo from 2019. Photo: Jess Baumung

Alone but together

Nomads member Kerry Walker suggested the challenge, which she dubbed the “Run on the Spot to Boston.” The club covered 839 kilometres, which is the distance of the route from Mississauga to Hopkinton that they follow every year. Over 40 of the Nomads participated in the Run on the Spot to Boston, dividing the over-800K route among themselves. Members ran a variety of distances, from single miles up to full marathons.

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“I got the feeling that everyone who had planned to do Boston or a spring race was looking to do some sort of marathon or long run instead, they just couldn’t run with anybody and they weren’t sure where to run,” Walker said. “So I made the suggestion that we all do our distance collectively, but apartalone but together.” The goal was to complete the distance and “arrive” in Boston this morning, in time for what would have been the start of the race.

The Nomads on a group run in 2019. Photo: Jess Baumung

“You have to use your imagination,” Walker said.

Running day and night

Walker ran the club’s first leg on Friday morning. This year would have been her 12th time running in Boston, but instead, she ran a marathon on her treadmill. It wasn’t what she’d been looking forward to, but she made do with it all the same.

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Her daughter even painted the marathon logo on the wall in the family’s basement next to her treadmill to give the run as much of a Boston vibe as possible. Walker got the Nomads off to a great start, running a 2:59:32—her first sub-three-hour marathon. From there, member after member ran their individual legs. Walker’s three kids—ages seven, 14 and 17—even got to participate. 

Photo: Kerry Walker

The Nomads ran from Friday morning when Walker kicked things off until today, covering the 839-kilometre route to Hopkinton. Once they made it, in time for the start of the race, an additional final leg of 42.2K was added—run by club member Tony Leslie—so the Nomads could finish the Run on the Spot challenge when the real race was set to be completed.

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Crossing the finish line

Once Leslie made it 41K, all of the Nomads ran the final kilometre, once again “alone but together,” Walker said. “Just in time to respect and honour all things Boston.”

Path along the Credit River, 2019. Photo: Jess Baumung

This was, of course, not the same as running the real Boston Marathon. The streets weren’t lined with fans, some Nomads ran at night and others on treadmills and they each had to run on their own. Even so, Walker said it was a wonderful experience for the club.

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“The weekend has been beyond anything any of us could have planned or imagined,” she said. “Instead of sitting around anxiously checking COVID-19 crisis numbers and news, we took a small break and we shared the weekend together having great laughs and making beautiful memories.”
For more on the Nomads and the Run on the Spot to Boston, listen to the newest episode of the Shakeout Podcast.