RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by Kroger is set to make a return in 2021. Keeping coronavirus-related restrictions in mind, this year’s race will take place on two separate courses from June 3-6.
The 2021 10k will use chip timing to allow runners and walkers to participate any time from that Thursday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Participants will pick up numbered bibs before the race, which will be equipped with the chips to track their time.
“This year will be a step up over what we did last September,” Sports Backers Executive Director Jon Lugbill said. “During the pandemic, we have both the opportunity and challenge to make it as real-life as possible, but also spread everybody out so that people can be socially distanced and be safe.”
While participants will be able to run or walk the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k virtually, there will also be course markers at Byrd Park and Dorey Park to give them the feeling of a traditional race.
“Having chip timing be available for 12 hours a day for four days is unusual and unique, Lugbill said. “We have bottle refill stations that are touchless, so you’ll actually use your foot, but you don’t have to touch them with your hands. [Participants will] be able to have the different finish lines, start lines, to be able to have signs, mile markers, to be able to have it all feel like it will be a real race.”
“Having two courses in four days, we actually have the ability to offer people the opportunity to run both courses or walk,” race director Meghan Keogh said. “You can do the event at both Dorey and Byrd Park, and earn some additional swag and some pride.”
Keogh said that runners and walkers who complete this challenge will earn a special medal. They will also be given a bib complete with a chip that will time them on both courses.
Officials said that the Sheehy Auto Stores 10k Hero Awards were introduced in 2021 to honor those who have supported their community over the past year through health, wellness and physical activity.
“Each week for 10 weeks, we will be recognizing a 10k hero,” Keogh said. “As part of their prize pack, they’ll receive a free entry into the event, they’ll receive a technical shirt from Brooks, they’ll receive a free pair of running shoes from Fleet Feet, they’re going to get a $25 gift card from Kroger, and, of course, we’re going to throw in some rainbow cookies for them.”
The Ukrop’s rainbow cookies served as the inspiration for this year’s finisher medal, which was designed by local artist Doug Orleski, also known as RVA Coffee Stain. Orleski pays tribute to the City of Richmond through his artwork, including the rainbow cookies.
“It kind of happened when I first moved to Richmond around, I think, about nine years ago,” Orleski said. “I was an artist and a cartoonist, and as I explored the City, I would celebrate the City through artwork. It just kind of snowballed from there.”
Seeing the medal for the first time in person on Thursday, Orleski said he was thrilled and humbled.
“Around two and a half years ago, I started running, and I was around 212 lbs. and I lost 60 lbs. through running and being active and eating healthy,” he said. “This kind of feels like the accumulation of all that coming together, the fitness and the artwork.”
Orleski said that he plans to run in this year’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, and that it will be his first race ever.
“To have my artwork on the medal of the first race that I actually run is another thing that kind of blows me away,” Orleski said. “I’m excited.”
Sports Backers Public Relations and Communications Manager Pete Woody said he is also looking forward to this year’s race because having the option to run on multiple days will allow him to participate. He said that runners and walkers who have completed the 10k in the past can expect similar terrain in 2021.
“If you think about the typical Monument Avenue 10k course, it starts on Broad Street, goes out and back on Monument — flat, pavement, pretty fast, comfortable to run at any pace or walk on,” Woody said. “Same for these parks. Byrd Park and Dorey Park and the Virginia Capital Trail — open, flat, some rolling hills.”
The Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k is continuing with the 10k Mini Kids Run and the YMCA 10k Training Team in 2021. For participants of all ages, Woody said that this race is the perfect way to get started running or walking.
“It helps sort of be a springboard to active living,” he said. “It really caters to all experience levels, so it’s a great event to get your start in. [It’s] totally normal to be nervous, but I think once you get going, you see what you’re capable of, it helps build excitement, motivation, belief and encouragement.”
Children age 4-12 can participate in the kids run, which is a one-mile race. Just like the 10k, it will be held from June 3-6 at Dorey Park and Byrd Park.
As for the YMCA 10k Training Team, race organizers said that there will be changes to the program in light of COVID-19-related restrictions.
“We thought it was important to help people take that first step toward living an active lifestyle,” Keogh said. “Through the YMCA, we made some changes. We’ll have small groups, we’ll have social distancing, but you’ll still get the coaches’ support, the routes, all the support to get you through 6.2 in June.”
Runners and walkers can sign up for the YMCA 10k Training Team by clicking here. It costs $55 to participate.
Registration for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by Kroger is open now. Registration costs $30 for adults and $20 for children through April 30, and then the price goes up to $40 and $30, respectively. Click here to sign up.
The YMCA 10k Training Team kicks off training on Saturday, March 27. The first Sheehy Auto Stores 10k Hero will be announced on Friday, April 2.