Race for the Cure

Rain didn’t stop participants during the 2019 Ottumwa Race for the Cure. This year’s already-postponed race will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa’s Race for the Cure is still happening Sept. 26, but it’s moving to a virtual platform.

“The race will be held on Facebook Live, and the morning of Sept. 26, we’ll do a live video on Facebook with a short program with a survivor talking about her experience, say thank you to our sponsors and encourage people to race where they are,” said Amara Huffine, development and events director for Komen Greater Iowa.

“It wasn’t a decision that we made lightly,” she said. “As a health care organization, we don’t feel it’s in our best interest to promote being healthy with encouraging people who have gone through treatment or are currently going through treatment to come celebrate during the COVID crisis.”

In fact, the move to the virtual event wasn’t the first step taken as a result of the global pandemic. Ottumwa’s Race for the Cure is traditionally held on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend. When the pandemic hit Iowa, it was postponed to September.

Huffine said participants in the event, usually held in Ottumwa Park, will be encouraged to take 10,000 steps or run 3.1 miles. The race portion won’t be lost as the organization is hosting a virtual timing component. “Anyone who wants to time themselves can submit their time,” she said. The top three men and women will receive trophies in the virtual race.

“We have never, in the history of Komen, have had to host a virtual event,” Huffine said. “As far as Iowa goes, Ottumwa will be the first virtual event we will hold. As a national company, we’ve had some affiliates have virtual events already, which is where we’re getting some of the best practices from.”

Those events outside of Iowa have helped provide a guidebook of sorts for Komen Greater Iowa to make the virtual events work. Following Ottumwa, the Quad Cities will host its virtual event Oct. 18 with Des Moines doing the same Oct. 24.

Huffine said the organization is still working out all the details on how the Ottumwa event will go.

“The biggest component is everyone gets a T-shirt,” she said. Sponsors also often have item giveaways for participants, and survivors receive a goodie bag. “We’re still trying to incorporate those aspects and how to do a social distance packet pickup.”

And, as a result of COVID-19, the organization has had to cancel its Ottumwa survivor luncheon Oct. 4.

However, the race is still planning on raising money for breast cancer research. In addition to moving to a virtual platform, other adjustments are being made.

“We’ve had to tweak all of our goals for all of our events,” said Huffine. “Usually we hope for 1,000 [particpants] at a normal event. We’re hoping to get 400 with the virtual, and we’re currently at 300.”

There is a registration fee of $25 which will remain the fee going forward; normally, the fee goes up on race day. Registration can be made online at komengreateriowa.org, or participants can call Komen Greater Iowa at 515-309-0095 to get registered.

Additional donations are being accepted as well with incentives in place to encourage people to donate or raise money. The person raising the most funds through July 28 will win an Apple Watch, and the first 40 people who raise or donate $100 will receive a gift card from Elliott Oil/BP.

In addition, people interested in keeping tabs on the virtual race can follow the hashtag #racewhereyouare.

“The Ottumwa committee has been really understanding, as well as our sponsors. It’s really nice to have their support through this decision,” Huffine said. “We really look forward to the day where we can be together and celebrate in person.”

Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

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Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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