Break that cabin fever with a YMCA run, walk or ride
By Samantha Lyles
As summer heat fades away and cooler temperatures tempt us out of our social isolation, we might wonder how we can safely take part in the fun and active rites of fall. How do we Turkey Trot and Zombie Run in the age of COVID? The YMCA of the Upper Pee Dee has the answer: Carefully. “We know a lot of races around the state have canceled and people are getting frustrated because they want get out and be active, but they also want to feel safe,” says Nique Knockemus, director of operations for the Hartsville and Darlington YMCA. “We are going forward with our Loop Da Ville bicycle race, but it’s going to look a little different this year.” Knockemus says that Loop participants can pretty easily distance themselves from strangers or groups in the race since the open road allows for plenty of safe breathing room. Rest stops along the route will offer increased sanitation, masked volunteers and prepackaged single serve food and drinks. Face coverings will not be mandatory for riders, but spectators who may be elbow to elbow along the street are asked to wear masks. Halloween enthusiasts are in for a treat this year, as the Chesterfield YMCA will stage our area’s first Zombie Run 5K on Oct. 17. “It’s going to be fun. We’re going to have zombies and humans, and the zombies will chase the humans and try to steal flags off of the humans as they run. You can dress as a zombie if you like – wear makeup and make it fun,” says Knockemus. If you choose to run as a human, your mission is to save the human race by reaching the finish line with your brains, heart and entrails (your flags) intact. Should you choose to run as a zombie, your mission is to spread the zombie virus by infecting the humans and capturing their flags. You may also choose to be immune, which means you are not susceptible to the virus or looking to infect anyone, so you can finish the race at your own pace. Knockemus says the race is a non-contact event, kind of like flag football, with some zest thrown in to make it interesting for the spooky season. The 29th Annual Turkey Trot is planned for Thanksgiving Day, and again the procedures will be altered to give runners and walkers a little extra space along the route. “The Turkey Trot will start in waves so that way, they can be a little more spaced out. We’ll have one group start, then wait a few minutes and let another group start so they won’t be crowded at the start all at one time,” says Knockemus, noting that start times will be assigned by the first letter of the racer’s last name. To reduce crowds, packet pickup will begin outside the Hartsville YMCA on Sunday, Nov. 22, and run through Wednesday, Nov. 25. Those who can’t arrange a pickup during that window can also pick up their packets on Thursday morning between 6:45 and 7:45 a.m., but getting it done early and avoiding a cluster of procrastinators is advised. If you’d like to learn more about these events, visit www.ymcaupd.org and check out their Facebook page for updates.