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3.2-Mile Run in Remembrance goes virtual for 2020

3.2-Mile Run in Remembrance
Photo courtesy Virginia Tech.

Every year alumna Ashley Winkeler joins thousands of other Hokies who take part in the 3.2-Mile Run in Remembrance.

She said that won’t change this year. Even though the world around all of us has.

Winkeler and countless others will participate virtually.

From April 16-18, Virginia Tech will host a virtual run during a three-day period to encourage proper distancing and adhere to state and local public health guidelines. Hokies can run, walk, or jog on their own and post a picture online using #VT32Run.

“Our university’s motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” Winkeler said. “This is a way for us to live out Ut Prosim and connect with Hokie Nation. It doesn’t matter how you get to the 3.2 miles. What truly matters is honoring and remembering those who were lost.”

The annual community event is now in its 12th year and draws tens of thousands of Hokies to participate in Blacksburg to honor and remember the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives on April 16, 2007.

Amid the worldwide effort to combat COVID-19, Virginia Tech Rec Sports announced last month the traditional event would be canceled, but has worked to organize a virtual offering to bring Hokies together while maintaining social distance.

“For years the run has been a way for all Hokies to remember and celebrate the lives of lost Hokies and be in community,” said Alison Cross, Rec Sports director. “By asking people to share their experience virtually, we hope everyone continues to see the power of this event.”

Cross added that the exact distance isn’t important, but rather the sense of community Hokies can create.

“We want everyone to join by walking or running, but any distance will connect us to our goal,” she said.

A printable bib is available online for people participating. Hokies are also encouraged to wear their favorite orange and maroon and share photos online through their own social media channels or through the run’s Facebook event.

Maddie Tran, a Virginia Tech junior, has lined up for the Run in Remembrance each year since she was a freshman, and she was determined not to miss it this year. A few weeks ago, she began mapping out a 3.2 mile course on a trail near her home in Oak Hill, Virginia. She plans to run the distance, starting at 9:43 a.m. on April 18, as part of the virtual event.

She mentioned her plans to her Virginia Tech Sigma Kappa sorority sisters, and now, a group will join her virtually on the same date and time. The students plan to take pictures of themselves after they complete the 3.2 miles and post them on the sorority’s Instagram account.

“When I first did it [the run] as a freshman, it was the first time where I felt that I was part of the Virginia Tech community,” said Tran. “By all running it virtually, it shows that we are still united and that we are part of Hokie Nation.”

Tran, a member of Virginia Tech’s field hockey club team, plans to wear her maroon and orange field hockey tank top for the virtual run, as she has done every other year.

Winkeler, who is the community service representative for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, has been working to encourage alumni in that area to participate. A 2018 grad, Winkeler quickly found fellow Hokies through the chapter when she moved to Pittsburgh in May.

When she heads out to do the run in two weeks, though, it won’t be in Pittsburgh.

“Currently I’m at home,” she said.

Winkeler is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh where she’s studying occupational therapy, and like students across the country her spring semester has been upended.

“I’m at home in Blacksburg where my parents live. I’m just taking my classes online,” she said. “It’s been an interesting transition to go to online learning. Our professors have been pretty supportive, and it is nice to be home. It’s been an interesting change, but a good one.”

She’ll complete the run on the Huckleberry Trail.

For more information or to participate, visit the Rec Sports website.

Information from Virginia Tech Media Relations