Innovative Virtual Run Hailed as Great Success Scholarships to Benefit
The Napa Valley Marathon was among the last live events in the Napa Valley before California went on lock-down last March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. The Napa Valley Marathon Board made the difficult decision to cancel the 43rd Napa Valley Marathon that was scheduled for March 7, 2021. Race Director Michelle La Salle, founder of Blistering Pace Race Management had an idea. Together with her partner and husband, Kevin Pool, the concept of a virtual race, “The Perfect Pairing,” was presented to the Board.
The Perfect Pairing virtual race gave participants a way to kick off their new year with 2 months of activity by running or walking distances from one mile to 26.2 miles! The “virtual” finish line was what would’ve been the traditional race date of March 7, and all runner distances and times were due into our interactive virtual platform. Close to 1000 participants including youth and covering 44 states and 9 countries, ran in their own home towns. As Napa Valley Marathon Board President, Jim Cotter reported, “ I heard from several families that it was a family affair for exercise in a safe way during the pandemic. The whole family would go out together.”
The “Perfect Pairing” included participation from long-time event sponsor Clif Family Winery, delivering highly popular, virtual food and wine experiences throughout the two month competition window.
Most importantly, The Napa Valley Marathon, which has raised hundreds of thousand of dollars in charitable giving over its 43 years, was able to continue its yearly high school scholarship program which gives $16,000 in scholarships to senior students in Napa County’s high schools. The NVM board is very grateful to all of the people who signed up for the virtual event so that the NVM could continue funding these scholarships.
The “Virtual” Marathon was highlighted on Channel 2 in the Bay Area as a great innovative way to get people out and enjoying the outdoors while doing exercise.
Planning has already begun for the 44th Napa Valley Marathon scheduled for March 2022; hopefully to be held in person! Please save the date for next year’s event — March 6, 2022. Napavalleymarathon.org
The Napa Valley Marathon is a member of the Road Runners Club of America and RunningUSA, the largest and most influential running-related organizations in the world. Several times, the marathon has been host to the RRCA National Championships, Western Regional Championships, and has been voted best road race in the country.