ORLANDO, Fla — Running events like 5K’s and half marathons are used to raise millions of dollars for charities and other organizations.
That’s been a little harder during the pandemic. Fortunately, Central Florida has a strong running community. The Track Shack and the Orlando Magic are working to keep that community together and keep Central Florida strong.
“If you see our race attraction tied to it, you know that some of those proceeds are going back to doing good in the community,” said Chris Hughes, director of retail operations at The Track Shack. The Track Shack is a running store and also sponsors many of the running events that happen in Orlando. It helps raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for different organizations each year.
The Track Shack is now teaming up with the Orlando Magic.
“Yeah, they reached out and wanted to start a virtual race,” Hughes said. “And, you know, obviously, one component of COVID was learning how to adapt to doing full-scale virtual races. And so with the formula in place, we were able to get it launched. So super excited to work with a partner like the Magic.”
“Virtual race” is the key phrase this year, and The Track Shack has been instrumental in working with technology and making sure events didn’t disappear.
It also started running limited in-person events in December but kept the virtual component in place.
In total, it reported more than 21,000 people have participated in 13 events since July, raising more than $140,000.
“But yeah, just trying to add as many of the elements as possible of an in-person race,” Hughes said. “Well, you know, obviously, keeping everybody socially distant and able to do it on your own time, which we found people really appreciated with the virtual option.”
The inaugural Magic 5K will be all virtual on April 10. Using The Track Shack app, runners will be able to take part in the race from anywhere. The plan is to make the Magic 5K an in-person event in the future.
Hughes said before the pandemic, the events would raise more than $150,000 each year for its youth organization, in addition to the money raised for other organizations. Despite taking a hit because of the pandemic, these events have been able to keep Central Florida running strong thanks to the virtual approach.
Cox Media Group