Cross Country

Loyola Athletics Looks to Engage with Fans Through Virtual 5k

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixLoyola's 2020 Lakefront Invitational was cancelled due to healthy and safety concerns with COVID-19.

After Loyola’s Lakefront Invitational was canceled due to COVID-19, Loyola Athletics announced it will host the 2020 Rambler Run Virtual 5K Sept. 25-27.

Registration for the roughly 3.1-mile race is open to the public. The cost to sign up is $25 and it comes with a pair of tickets to a 2021-22 Loyola men’s basketball game and a neck gaiter. Participants will also receive a virtual race kit and entry into a raffle for Loyola gear.

Loyola Athletics Director of Marketing and Ticket Operations Brian Day said people can go at their own pace, whether that’s walking or running. 

“Folks aren’t going to submit any final times,” Day said. “It’s more or less the honor system. You sign up, you complete your 5K during the weekend … it is more about connecting with the community than times.”

Day said the 5K is also engaging in new and exciting ways via social media, where runners can upload pictures and videos and Loyola Athletics will interact. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, BVM, will even be joining in the race, according to Day.

“They can post videos and pictures to social media using the hashtag, Rambler Run,” Day said. “We’ll be doing some video and social media things throughout the weekend to make it more engaging. There’s going to be some prizes for different categories like best dressed and best four-legged participant. Sister Jean will even be participating on her therapy bike.”

Day said the inspiration for this idea came from seeing schools around the country try new ways to reach fans, despite not being able to host any in-person events. 

“We’ve been looking for ways all summer to connect and engage with our fans virtually in different ways,” Day said. “We are doing a lot of stuff on Zoom. Now, six or seven months in, we were looking for ways to get off of Zoom. A lot of places that have done 5Ks or half marathons have moved to a virtual format. A lot of schools have started to do them as well.”

Day said even without a pandemic, a virtual 5K again next year is possible if registration and turnout are high.

“Hopefully on the other side of this pandemic, we will be able to do most of our events in person,” Day said. “But if it goes well and people respond to it, it’s definitely something we look into.”

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