The 17th annual Sharon Timlin 5K will look a lot different this year.
Instead of about 1,500 people following the same route in support of raising money for ALS research, individuals will participate remotely.
Organizers have asked registrants to join them by running, walking, hand-cycling or skipping 3.1 miles between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, “on any route you like.”
“By late April it became very clear to the organizing committee that we would not be able to hold our event in person as usual,” race director Stephanie Whelan said.
Whelan acknowledged the challenges of going virtual.
“So much of what makes the event a much-loved community and family-oriented event will be missing this year due to the pandemic,” Whelan said.
However, despite not being able to host the race in person, Whelan and co-director April Galanek remain optimistic that the event will be a meaningful experience contributing to funds for treating ALS.
“The virtual platform has done very, very well,” Galanek said, reporting close to 800 registrants as of early June. “I’m really happy with the response we’ve had from all over.”
Added Whelan: “While we can never make up for all of these [in-person] things, we have tried to incorporate new things to make it special.
“For example, we’ll have links on our website on the day of the event to the national anthem [sung by Hopkinton teenager Kelsie Breslin], inspirational messages [including one from former Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin], a playlist specially put together by one of our sponsors for our participants, and a virtual toast to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.”
Whelan also noted that the virtual race will allow participants to be involved outside of Hopkinton, and it’s something the organizers plan to keep for future years.
“One very positive outcome is we have people from all over participating in the event,” she said. “Going virtual means that anyone from anywhere can participate. We have people from 19 states, Canada and beyond who are signed up. While we hope that next year’s Timlin event can be held in person, we will continue to have an option for people who want to run it virtually.”
The race supports an important cause, as roughly 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year. Proceeds from the event benefit The Angel Fund, which supports ALS research at UMass Medical Center in Worcester.
“Once you know someone who has been affected by ALS it becomes clear how important it is to raise money for research into the disease,” Whelan said. “It is truly a devastating disease that currently has no cure.”
Added Whelan: “If you can’t participate in the virtual 5K, please consider making a donation to support much-needed research of ALS.”
To register or for more information, visit the event’s website at sharontimlinrace.org. Registration will remain open until noon on the day of the race.