On April 1, many runners will begin the United in Spirit race, an 18.23 mile challenge, but they will begin separate from each other, on treadmills, in neighborhoods and in parks.
The United in Spirit runners will be running a virtual race, where any miles run anywhere count toward the overall goal of 18.23 miles.
The runners have a virtual route from Union University’s old site all the way to the current campus and then back again. Runners register for the race, log into the virtual race sponsor Make YES! Happen’s website, and earn photos as they make progress along their virtual route.
United in Spirit is organized by an events management class taught by Julie Powell, professor of sports management. The class collaboratively puts on an event as a real-world application of the skills they are learning.
Cody Mitchell, senior business management major, is in the class and is helping to organize the event.
“It’s our whole class putting it together. In our events management class we are learning to put together an event by putting together an event,” Mitchell said.
Union has never put on a virtual race before, and many in the class had never even heard of a virtual race.
The proceeds of the race will go to the sports management student development fund, a fund designed to help sports management students attend job fairs and events to give more practical experience in sports management. Last year they helped run the first national football championship for the NCAA playoffs.
Mitchell believes the race will help many people, not just students, rally around the cause of a healthier community.
“I’m hoping that it will help the community to pull together…that’s one of the things Union lately has been trying to do, is promote a healthier community,” Mitchell said. “One thing [President Samuel W. “Dub”] Oliver has made prevalent since he came is…they have been trying to work more with the faculty to become a more healthy community, and it has also blended with the students as well.”
Registration costs $25, but April 1, registration cost will increase to $30.
While the run starts on April 1, the event will be kicked off at the UWalk April 6. The race will end on April 23 with the United in Spirit 5K.
Those who complete the race will receive a Bulldog medal, shipped in by Make YES! Happen.
“It’s actually going to be a pretty big four inch medal…It’s probably an inch and a half of ribbon,” Mitchell said.
Information can be found at the PEWS website.