RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia lifted most social distancing and capacity limits on Friday, marking a turning point for many during the coronavirus pandemic, a virus that has claimed the life of more than 11,000 Virginians.
With vaccination numbers on the rise, many families now feel comfortable gathering for the first time in more than a year.
Cary Wing, who works in the fitness and lifestyle medicine industry, is using Richmond’s iconic road race, the Monument Avenue 10k, to reunite in-person with her daughter for the first time since the pandemic hit Virginia last spring.
“I’m in the healthcare field, so I’m aware of the load the healthcare system has had this past year in a half,” Wing said. “It’s been a long year, and I’ve been extremely careful.”
Wing loves the outdoors, and one of her ways of escape during the pandemic has been getting outside for exercise in her neighborhood and Richmond parks.
“I’m an outdoor person, so with the pandemic, as much as I could get outside and do a walk/jog or sometimes I get in the car and go to Robious Landing,” she said. “For me, the physical activity hasn’t been so bad, it’s been the social.”
It’s been extremely tough not seeing her daughters and grandchildren in-person for more than a year to protect against the spread of COVID-19, Wing said.
The big “aha” moment, where Wing first began thinking of relaxing a little, came when she got vaccinated a few months ago. Wing works as a volunteer at St. Francis hospital and become eligible in early 2021.
Then, around March, Wing got an email about the Monument Avenue 10k sign ups this year. She has completed multiple marathons, but decided to hang up her competitive running shows after posting a time of under 5-hours at the New York City Marathon in 1991. The last time she ran in a race with her youngest daughter was also more than 25 years ago.
“Got the 10k email, and I thought: hmm,” she said.
Wing and her youngest daughter are both vaccinated, and next weekend along the Monument Avenue 10k course, they will break two streaks: 25 years since running a race together and an entire pandemic since sharing a hug.
“It’s going to touch me in a lot of ways, and I know it’s going to touch her. We’re both very independent women, but we also are very feeling and emotional. So I know it’s going to bring out those feelings. As I said, it’ll be a big hug and a lot of tears I think,” Wing said. “As I’ve said, we’re not going to break any records, but she says she’s going to leave me way behind her. We’ll see!”
Like last year, the 2021 Monument Avenue 10k will take place in multiple locations away from the famed Monument Avenue route, which typically attracts tens of thousands of runners and spectators.
Two courses will be set up near Byrd Park and Dorey Park. Participants who cannot take part at those courses are encouraged to run on their own.
Wing and her daughter plan to tackle the Byrd Park course, and although the change in the 10k venue is a sign the pandemic is not fully in the rearview mirror, Wing said it feels like her family reunion race marks something important.
“It’s that moment, it’s that final moment where we go: OK, we can move forward now. Let’s take advantage of that, let’s enjoy each other and go out and have some fun," she said.
Click here for more information on sign-ups and course details for the 2021 Monument Avenue 10k.