How COVID And Racial Tensions Have Changed The Running World

WBBM Newsradio Staff
June 18, 2020 - 8:10 pm

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Going for a run isn't what it used to be in this age of social distancing and social unrest.

Runners are having a challenging time with the cancellation of group runs and many races because of COVID-19.

Greg Hipp, executive director of the Chicago Area Runner's Association, said there have been countless cancellations of running events and clubs like his have been stymied.

His group has issued guidance, such as having masks at the ready.

"We've been encouraging runners to wear a mask or a face cover anytime they can't maintain that six-foot distance,” he said.  

Matt Koshy, a Radiation Oncologist at University of Illinois Hospital, is training for his ninth Chicago Marathon despite the quarantine. He said his whole training routine, which normally has him running along the lakefront, has been upended because of the pandemic.

"I definitely need to look into getting one of the new athletic masks that are now available because I think now there are whole lines that are geared more toward being able to breathe within the mask," Koshy said.

Hipp said during these times of protest and reflection, the Chicago running community is also working to represent all of Chicago.

"Running is truly accessible to everyone and that's something that we have reflected on a lot here at CARA, especially after the running club around the world came together to bring awareness to the death of Ahmaud Arbery in early May,” he said. “And who would have thought then that the issue would keep becoming even more prevalent."

Courtney Phillips, co-founder of the running group GumboFit Chicago, said “running while being black” is an issue for minorities.

“The outdoors should be a place that people can roam freely," Phillips said. "But we as a society have policed the black community since the beginning of time, and so this is just another manifestation of that.”

Phillips encourages runners to seek out running groups across the city.

"It's very important for all of us runners to explore the city and join run groups that we might not have joined, that might not be in our neighborhood," she said. "There are plenty of run groups on the North Side of the city. But there are plenty of opportunities to get to know other areas of the city and to get to know these runners just by showing up. Join us."

This week's "At Issue" program looks at running and how recent seismic events have had an impact and airs at 9:30 a.m. and a.m Sunday.