Barry’s Runners find fun way to stay connected

3 May
Shannon and Jess

Jessica Barry, right, owner of Barry’s Old School Irish, even joined in the relay. Here Shannon Tipper, left, hands off the next leg of the relay to Jess. (J. Barry)

This was a lot of fun.

Barry’s Runners, my running club that meets every Tuesday night at Barry’s Old School Irish in the village, recently found a great way to reconnect with fellow runners during the pandemic, while still maintaining social distancing: a 12-hour virtual relay.

The group normally meets at Barry’s Old School Irish every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. for group runs or walks, followed by social time at the pub.

Thanks to the current pandemic, Barry’s has had to curtail its hours, and group activities like the weekly runs have been put on hold indefinitely.  The Barry’s Runners 12-hour Virtual Relay was a fun way for group members to stay connected — and motivated — during the crisis.

The event ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on what would have been a regular Tuesday running night, April 21. The day was split up into 24 half-hour slots. Participants asked to sign up for one or more of the spots, and during their allotted time get out and run, walk or even bike. As soon as one person’s half hour was complete, he or she texted the next person in line to begin the next leg of the relay.

After the event was posted on the Barry’s Runners Facebook page, it only took a few days for all 24 half-hour time slots to fill up. A handful of participants even took two adjacent spots, hitting the streets for an hour straight. By the end of the relay, 28 adults, plus a few kids and dogs participated, logging more than 70 miles.

The event even got a long-distance participant. Jill Belluco, a former Webster resident and Barry’s Runner, signed up for the first time slot even though she moved from Webster to South Carolina a few months ago. She said it was a great way to stay in touch with her old running buddies, while juggling the challenges of a new home and new job.

Several of the runners took photographs documenting their runs and posted them to the Barry’s Runner’s Facebook group, further enhancing the community experience.

The relay idea actually came from a similar event held earlier in the month by another running group, Rochester Running Club, who organized their own virtual running relay on Monday, April 13. Originally planned for the 24 hours spanning Sunday night through Monday night, that relay is still going on.

Chances are Barry’s Runners couldn’t manage to keep up a relay that long. But another 12-hour relay is definitely in the cards, cause everyone had so much fun.   

Lesley and Larry Johnson

Lesley and Larry Johnson completed a 6.5-mile leg with their running and walking buddy, Cullen.

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