GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Amway River Bank Run will not happen in person this year.
Race organizers announced Thursday morning that they are switching to a virtual format, which means runners will be able to sign up and run the distance — 5K, 10K or 25K — on their own.
“It was a really tough decision,” race director David Madiol told News 8 on Daybreak. “We had to make the tough decision, but we’re excited because we’re not going to let it get us down. We’re going to transfer to this virtual race. It’s going to happen on your own terms between now and Oct. 24.”
If you’re already registered, you’ll get information on how the virtual race will work or be allowed to defer to the 2021 race.
For those who do run this year, there will still be a celebratory drive-thru event at Millennium Park in Walker, running from 10 am. to 2 p.m. Oct. 24. Runners who submit their times online can get a shirt, medal and other goodies. Racers will also be able to get their photo taken while staying in their car. Meijer is providing snacks.
“Lots of good things that are going to go on. We want to keep the tradition alive this year even though we’ve had to fight through COVID,” event spokesman Russ Hines said.
The largest 25K road race in the country, the River Bank Run annually draws thousands of people to downtown Grand Rapids. Though it’s usually held in May, organizers announced earlier this year that they were postponing to October due to concerns about spreading coronavirus. On Thursday, organizers said they decided to go virtual “after careful consideration and consult with health professionals.”
“We fully acknowledge the inconvenience that our initial delay from May to October and now the cancellation of the in-person event has caused, but we have been working tirelessly to ensure that the Amway River Bank Run can happen in some way, so we felt the virtual format was best,” Hines said in a statement. “COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how we celebrate our runners’ accomplishments. We feel that the Millennium Park event will honor the tradition of the Amway River Bank Run.”
The road race is the latest event forced to cancel in-person festivities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, the Gazelle Girl runs in Grand Rapids switched to a virtual format. ArtPrize has also been canceled for 2020 and its future remains unclear.
Madiol said River Bank Run organizers had a “very positive attitude” about the 2021 race happening in person.