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Tracksmith creates virtual race to support NCAA running programs

The Alumni Championships will be "as close as we’ll get to crowning a 2020 champ" in the NCAA, and everyone's invited to compete

Justyn Knight Photo by: Syracuse Athletics

For most runners, racing is just on hold during the pandemic, but for many collegiate athletes, they might not get another chance to compete in their school colours. Many NCAA running programs have been cut in the last eight months due to budget issues caused by COVID-19, and Boston-based run gear company Tracksmith is looking to change that with a new virtual race called the Alumni Championships. The event is a quick two-mile (3.2K) run that will give runners everywhere the opportunity to help prevent collegiate cross-country and track programs from going under. It costs about C$26 to enter, and participants can run any time between October 31 and November 8. 

Cutting programs 

Since the start of COVID-19, we have seen several universities in the U.S. cut cross-country and track programs, including Brown University, Central Michigan University, the University of Akron and, most recently, the University of Minnesota. Following serious pushback from the school’s athletes and the general public after demoting the men’s cross-country and track teams to club status, Brown reinstated its programs to varsity status, although it is the only university so far that has reversed its initial decision. 

RELATED: Is varsity running becoming extinct?

The Alumni Championships 

Due to COVID-19, the NCAA’s indoor and outdoor track championships were both cancelled, and it was recently announced that this year’s cross-country championships have been pushed to March 2021. Because of this, Tracksmith says the Alumni Championships are “as close as we’ll get to crowning a 2020 champ.” The way the race works is simple. Participants are asked to select a school to represent when registering for the event, and whether you’re a former NCAA runner yourself, a former student of an NCAA school or just a fan of running, you can enter to race and support the team of your choosing. 

Sage Watson after winning the NCAA Championship in the 400m hurdles in 2017.

Once registered and set up with a specific team, you’re ready to run your race. The rules state that participants must run two miles on a 400m track, after which they will upload their GPS data to verify they ran the appropriate distance. There are open and masters divisions, and cash prizes can be won by the top 10 individuals in each category, as well as the top five open and top seven masters teams. Other than those awards, the rest of the money raised will be dedicated to helping NCAA programs that have been cut or are at risk of being cut.

To find out more about the Alumni Championships or to register for the race, click here

RELATED: Brown University reinstates cross-country and track and field teams