During a time of change influenced by a global pandemic, organizers of Ferguson Twilight Run made a decision to continue with its annual event by transitioning to an all-virtual experience. The pivot was necessary to remain focused on the mission of health, wellness, and community.
Ferguson Twilight Run (FTR) Virtual Weekend 2020, May 15-17, marked the 11th year of the race. The changes were noticeable, such as a kick-off with a running-themed spirit week on social media and three days to complete chosen distances of one mile, 5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), or 10 miles. Warm-up activities, deejays, live music, cheer stations, and announcements were done via Zoom or live on Facebook.
Most noticeable was that start and finish lines and run and walk routes happened all over the country instead of at Plaza at 501, the traditional gathering place for the race.
Overall, FTR welcomed 681 registered participants representing 21 states and 128 zip codes, with 66 percent women and 34 percent men joining as runners and walkers. Participants will receive a 2020 limited edition FTR T-shirt, finisher medal, and $20 toward a shoe purchase at Big River Running Company; items will be sent by mail the first week of June.
“When the planning committee agreed to transition to a virtual event, it was a quick pivot. The decision to become a fully virtual event was made in March. That meant we had to make a lot of changes in just a few weeks. Everything worked because planning for the race actually begins months in advance and because we have a committee, sponsors, volunteers, neighbors, and a community of runners and walkers who are dedicated to Ferguson Twilight Run,” said Dwayne James, race director.
“We didn’t know what to expect with the transition, so we set a conservative goal of getting 350 participants. As the event drew closer, the registrations increased, which happens in a normal year, but we were all surprised that we nearly doubled the goal,” said James. “It’s humbling.”
Rae Mohrmann, an avid runner and long-time participant of Ferguson Twilight Run, had this to say about the 2020 event: “In spite of the race being virtual this year, the committee did a fabulous job of making the best of things and engaging people in a variety of ways with the virtual classes and concerts. Thanks for another job well done.”
A History of Sustaining the Community
Ferguson Twilight Run debuted in May 2010 as the first evening race in North St. Louis County. From the beginning, FTR has donated proceeds to nonprofits in North St. Louis County that promote the healthy and sustainable benefits of fitness.
Through its Donnie White Sr. Memorial Beneficiary Award, organizations apply for grant funds from FTR. This year, four beneficiaries will receive $2,375 each – A Red Circle, Emerson Family YMCA, Girls on the Run St. Louis Ferguson-Florissant School District, and St. Vincent Home for Children – for healthy and active programming. The organizations will also be the beneficiaries in 2021.
As of May 2020, Ferguson Twilight Run has given more than $100,000 to community organizations in 11 years.