In a year that is anything except normal, one of the area’s centerpiece athletic traditions is joining the ranks of events temporarily adapting.
The 27th Pit Run will be a virtual event, with single-day, month-long and team events replacing the the five-kilometer and 10-kilometer races typically held during early October.
“We just really wanted to make sure we didn’t play any part in the spread of corona and we want to make sure the community is safe,” said David Weaver, the race’s director. “Having a gathering of up to 1,500 people is just not safe and feasible at the moment.”
While the traditional Neahwa Park gathering is off for 2020, competitors will nonetheless have the opportunity to contribute to the race’s fundraising goals. Proceeds help fund the Ricky J. Parisian Memorial Scholarship Foundation, named after State Trooper Ricky “Pit” Parisian, who was shot and killed May 20, 1994, when he attempted to stop an armed robbery while off duty at an Oneonta supermarket.
The foundation presents a scholarship to a graduating Oneonta High School senior each year, and also raises money for other youth organizations in the area.
The race’s philanthropic goals were a key part of deciding to hold a modified version of the event.
“We thought about it, but it wasn’t a major thought in our minds to cancel or postpone. We still think we can get a lot of people involved,” Weaver said. “The Pit Run is the major fundraiser for the foundation and we still wanted to have an event people could rally around and raise some money for the community as well.”
The virtual event will include options for the five- or 10-kilometer race. The 10-kilometer race costs $40 to enter, and includes a virtual race bib, certificate of completion and a t-shirt. The five-kilometer race costs $25 to enter, and includes the bib, certificate and a decal. Both will offer participants the option to submit and manage results on a virtual leaderboard.
Competitors can run the traditional courses through Oneonta, or wherever is most comfortable.
The move to a virtual event has also spawned two new ways to participate. A month-long option challenges runners to cover 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) during the month of October, with the ability to log mileage and track progress on a virtual leaderboard. Entrance is $70 and includes a hoodie and a virtual bib.
Another option for team-oriented runners allows groups of up to five to combine for as many miles as possible during the month. Entry is $36 per person.
Weaver said the best way for people to support the cause is to get involved.
“We’d really like people to sign up, but also see people sharing things on Facebook and showing their training runs, their virtual runs,” he said. “If they are running on the course, that’s great, or if it’s in another part of the country that’s great too.”
More information is available at the race’s Facebook page, The Pit Run, and at pitrun.org