Virtual 5K on Mercer’s campus promotes health during pandemic

A runner wearing a race bib flexes muscles
A runner pauses to pose for a photo during a 5K race on Mercer University's Macon campus in November 2019.

Mercer University is promoting the importance of physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting a virtual 5K race called “We Run Together.”

The free event will take place Oct. 17-31. All faculty, staff and students are invited to join and can either walk or run throughout the racecourse of the Macon campus that will be provided to them after they sign up online.

The first 100 participants who sign up will receive a T-shirt. Additionally, select participants, such as the top-three finishers, best pink costume (in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month) and best Halloween costume will receive special prizes.

Anyone who would like to run or walk at another of location of their choice may register and submit their times as well.

Dr. Ansley Booker
Dr. Ansley Booker

The event is coordinated by the offices of Employee Wellness and Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. Dr. Ansley Booker, director of diversity and inclusion, initiated the idea for the event to instill normalcy during this unprecedented time.

“The race is an opportunity to get people moving,” Dr. Booker said. “It’s a way for us to feel connected with the environment and connected with the community.”

According to the University of California San Francisco, physical activity plummeted as COVID-19 became a part of our lives and set a precedent for the months to follow.

Although “We Run Together” will be in a virtual format, Dr. Booker said there will still be core elements that will encapsulate the experience of being in an actual race. However, the virtual format will allow more flexibility for the participants’ schedules.

“Once you finish the race, you would turn in the time you spent walking or running on campus on the honor system,” Dr. Booker said.

Burnout and stress have been significantly heightened during the pandemic with the constant demands of life. Dr. Booker emphasized the importance of maintaining all aspects of health that can be easily compromised.

“Although I am not an M.D., I think mental, physical, emotional and psychological wellness are very important,” Dr. Booker said. “A lot of the recommendations for our health involve getting out and getting moving.”

The event’s organizers hope to establish a supportive and fitness-forward environment and do so in a spirited way.

“The purpose is twofold,” Dr. Booker said. “To have a fun and exciting activity that you can do while also being cognizant of one’s wellbeing and health. We thought the 5K was an opportunity for people to engage in all those things and do so safely.”

Although pandemic precautions may be implied due to the virtual nature of the event, participants should still abide by CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“All COVID protocols are still the same,” Dr. Booker said. “If you are running with a friend, you need to stay 6 feet apart, using sanitary precautions and wearing a mask when applicable.”


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