After pivoting to virtual races in the midst of COVID-19, Wire2Wire Running’s leaders are excited to be returning to live racing.
“We are literally thrilled,” said Matt Terry, who owns Wire2Wire Running along with David Matherne. “We are so excited to be getting it cranked back up starting with the Bartow Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ SonRise 5K on Saturday, July 25, followed by the Dellinger Dash Community Race on Thursday evening, Aug. 13, at Dellinger Park.
“Running outdoors is about as safe of activity as there can be in these trying times. Don’t trust us, trust the so-called experts who have professed this time and time again. Road racing itself is inherently a social distancing event as all runners run at different paces and typically runners don’t like to be ‘elbow to elbow’ with each other when they are out on the route working up a sweat.”
While virtual races are a good concept “in trying times,” Terry shared they certainly aren’t a replacement for live racing.
“Virtual races really constitute the old adage ‘you do the best you can with what you’ve got’ but at that same time, runners want to run with and against other runners,” Terry said. “It enhances the experience and the overall sense of accomplishment.
“And running virtual is almost as if you are participating in your normal weekday run. It just does not have the same impact as the camaraderie and thrill of running a road race with others. So yes, we are beyond thrilled to return to live racing.”
As Terry noted, Wire2Wire’s next race will benefit the local FCA. Race day registration will begin July 25 at The Stone Church — 30 McCormick Road in Cartersville — at 6:30 a.m., with runners departing at 8 a.m. Runners can sign up in advance for $25 on www.active.com.
“The proceeds from the SonRise 5K race will be used to send student leaders to a leadership camp in St. Simon’s Island in the summer of 2021,” said Sherry Spinks, FCA Bartow’s area director. “This camp will help equip and empower the students to efficiently do ministry at their school while helping them grow in their own walk with Christ. We are so excited to be able to have a live race.
“We believe that we were created and designed to be together in community. This race will allow us to come together as a community to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus — hence the name — and run/walk together to provide the resources needed to help spread His love throughout our schools.”
Blending faith with athletics, FCA is serving Georgia Highlands College and the middle schools and high schools in Bartow’s and Cartersville’s school systems.
“For over 60 years, we have been serving coaches and athletes all around the globe to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes,” Spinks said. “Our mission is to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.
“Our goal is to accomplish this mission by engaging, equipping and empowering both student and adult leaders to go out and do ministry on their school campuses using the platform of sports.”
When live races were halted, Wire2Wire produced the Wire2Wire Virtual 5K for 5 Kids May 2 and coordinated Bartow Family Resource’s virtual 5K June 20.
“While they are not the same type of events, it was super exciting to see people get behind the each of those two causes,” Terry said. “I don’t think David and I really knew what to expect, but when the results starting coming in via email and text, just seeing folks send in snap shots of their watches, routes, expressions, etc. was awesome.
“It was just super cool to see everyone still want to be involved in a group event, like a road race, even though it was not in person. To me it was a real testament to the human spirit that runners wanted to race against themselves, and the clock, and to support great causes, like Bartow Family Resources, but do it individually.”
The 5K for 5 Kids generated $450 to Backpack Buddies. Nearly 70% of the runners selected the outreach effort among 10 other designated charities to be the race’s beneficiary.
The other organizations were Advocates for Children, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, Boys & Girls Clubs, Brighter Birthdays, Etowah Scholarship Foundation, Mt. Zion Youth Scholarship, Open Door Children’s Home, Race Rome, Tallatoona Community Action and The Bookmobile.
“We selected these nonprofits because Matt and I are both vested in the youth of our community,” Matherne said. “The response for the race was actually better than we expected. Well, truth is, we didn’t know what to expect. We thought if we got 25 folks to sign up, we’d call it a win.
“Turns out, we had 68 who ran a 5K somewhere that day, with teenager Colin McCann winning in a remarkable 16:52, his best time ever and with no crowd giving him an ovation for such an effort. Just him and the track and his GPS watch. What was cool about the virtual race was that we had folks from all over running it — Alabama, Texas, Pennsylvania, even four from Germany. All competing ‘together’, while apart. How cool is that? And the photos we got from those who shared them were awesome.”
For Matherne, being able to support a local charity helped put everything “into perspective.”
“W2W has certainly lost some business, but there are kids in our town going to bed without dinner,” he said, referring to Backpack Buddies supplying students with food over the weekends. “Times are rough for so many people in our community.
“We’ve all had some heartbreaking stories affect us. That’s why we have a vision of hope for the remainder of the year.”
For more information, individuals need to visit Wire2Wire Running’s website, www.wire2wirerunning.com, or Facebook page.