Special to Delta County Independent

For runners, bikers and other adult athletes this is the time of year when summer weekends are booked with races and events, and weekdays are spent preparing and training. However, this year instead of receiving emails with event details, inboxes are full of event cancellations and postponements. Although understandable and respectable, these decisions are still often disheartening for those who spend their winters picking the ideal collection of activities to fill the warm, long days of summer.

Recently, however, one group found a way to get a small taste of a typical race-weekend during these COVID-19 times. Michele Hart, Sharon Markley and Lynn Alford (who are all members of the Surface Creek Trail Surfer group) participated in a virtual COVID-themed race aptly titled “The Covidbuster 19K.” This 12-mile race was open to anyone who was up for the challenge of designing and completing their own virtual experience and by the end of May. Nearly 2,000 other people from across the country will have completed it.

The three set out May 17 at an unmarked, spectator-less starting line part-way up Surface Creek Road. Their 19k course led them down the mesa, through Cedaredge’s one traffic light, down the Surface Creek Trail and Old Goat Road to their planned finish line at Fruit Grower’s Reservoir.

“Twelve miles is no joke!” Shannon Markley shared as she described designing the trio’s course. “Downhill simply seemed the logical thing to do. Plus it gave us a chance to really take in the views from many areas of town. “

A race of this distance typically includes a formal timed start, stocked aid stations, a finishers’ party with music and refreshments, and of course a ribbon for the winner to breakthrough. However, these ladies knew these things were not going to be part of the “Covidbuster 19K.” So, they dawned their water packs and GPS watches so they could provide their own aid and packed their own coolers with goodies for a mock post-race party.

However, to their surprise, a few local friends appeared throughout their morning run with their version of typical race staples. Steven and Sylvia Sweat set up a water station a few miles in and Ed and Debbie Zarret showed up at the Fruit Grower’s Reservoir finish with tape for the women to break through as they wrapped their two hours of running.

“I was so excited to have a race on my calendar that just finishing this run would have made my day. But, having friends from the Cedaredge running and walking community come out and do these little things made my month!” exclaimed Michele as she reflected on her day.

As the three sat 6 feet apart at the finish and resting their feet, Lynn Alford summed it up by saying, “It appears that the Surface Creek Trail Surfer’s first ‘Covidbuster 19K’ has shown that with a little creativity, social distancing and the summer racing season can coexist this year.”

The girls virtually tapped their glasses and agreed that this will not be the last time they sit in that parking lot, eating watermelon, and feeling socially connected again after a grueling 19k.

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