NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — About two weeks from now, runners will once again be waiting to hear the starting gun in Hampton Roads.
Virginia Beach-based J&A Racing held virtual events during the pandemic, and then a socially distanced Shamrock Marathon earlier this year.
But the Big Blue 5K will be different, simply because it will be normal.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Kate Napolitano, J&A’s vice president of marketing.
As a small business dependent on in-person gatherings, Napolitano and the rest of the staff weren’t even sure they’d make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
It hit just before the Shamrock Marathon in 2020, the company’s biggest annual event.
“Runners are resilient, we learned that right from the start,” Napolitano said.
J&A got through with virtual events, a PPP loan and finally, Shamrock 2021, with a staggered start to keep runners apart.
“This time, we’re going to have a true start line, we’re going to have corrals going off like normal,” Napolitano said. “We’re going to have the finish line on the field, we’re going to have a post-race party, beer, bagels, all the stuff that we used to have.”
The race takes runners through ODU’s campus, just as the school gets its own fresh start with a new school year, a new football coach and a recently reconstructed stadium.
“It’s been a tough year plus and we’re just excited that everyone’s coming to celebrate with us and cross the finish line and have a good time,” Napolitano said.
J&A anticipates a crowd of between 1,500 to 2,000 people. A virtual option is available.