Emma Coburn Elk Run 5k goes virtual

Just do it, wherever

by Than Acuff

Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5k, a fundraiser for Living Journeys, is slated for Saturday, September 21 and is now going global in its third year. Granted, the run in Crested Butte, as we all know it, will not be happening this year but the latest version is a way to still raise money for a great cause without actually having the race, and Emma Coburn assures everyone that it will return to Crested Butte in 2020.

The reason is simple: schedule conflict, as Emma will be busy training to defend her title in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

“My intent was to host another 5k in Crested Butte, but due to a racing conflict, we won’t be able to have the Elk Run 5k in Crested Butte this year,” explains Emma. “I will be racing at the IAAF World Championships in the steeplechase in Doha, Qatar on September 30, 2019. I won’t be able to make it back to hold a race in Crested Butte, so this year we are planning a virtual 5k.”

Emma got the initial idea from outreach over the past two years for her race and what has been going on in the running world.

“The last two years we received emails from people all over the world asking about the event and wanting to participate but unable to attend,” says Emma.

Yet it wasn’t until this year that Emma and race organizers had to take that next step to the global running community.

“We always thought about doing it sometime down the line—this year forced our hand,” says Emma.

The idea is simple: Anyone who wishes to participate must go to elkrun5k.com to sign up. Then, on Saturday, September 21, get out and run, or walk, five kilometers wherever you may be and post pictures of it on Facebook, twitter and/or Instagram with hashtags #VirtualElkRun5k and #ElkRun5k on social media. You can include your time or not and while there is no way to officially track whether or not you actually did five kilometers, the honor system and the fact that the money raised has already happened should be incentive enough.

The benefits are the same. First of all, proceeds from race registrations will go to the goal of raising $30,000 for Living Journeys. Secondly, racers will still receive an exclusive Elk Run 5k hat, a racing bib and a tote bag filled with sponsor goodies.

Last year nearly 1,000 people did the Elk Run 5k in Crested Butte. This year, with global participation available, Emma is hoping for 1,500 participants. They posted the new format online back in March and got 300 people to register in the first week. They have yet to follow up on that but hope to hit their goal when they really start promoting the virtual event starting sometime this summer.

“The cool thing about running is that it’s a global sport and it’s been pretty cool to see other events do virtual runs and become a global event,” says Emma. “We think it will be successful for us too.”

As for 2020, Emma will be able to bring the event back to Crested Butte as well as having the global virtual run available, which should drive up participation even more.

“We will always have the virtual run be a part of the Elk Run but after this year moving forward, we’ll still do the race in Crested Butte,” says Emma.

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