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Fort Town Night Run forges the way for a new way to race

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PRESCOTT - The Prescott Fort Town Night Run is presenting their yearly fundraising run on Saturday, September 26 - and it will be a brand-new way to host a running event.

COVID-19 has led to the cancellation or postponement of nearly every running event in the world. Large-scale events like the Boston Marathon, Ottawa Race Weekend, and Army Run are looking at possibly two years or more until they can host such events again. These races are looking at small-scale community runs to meet the needs of runners in a safe manner until then.

The organizers of the Fort Town Night Run have been working diligently since March to plan a safe and unique running experience for participants. They have developed extensive health and safety protocols that take into account social distancing, small numbers of people at a time, and thorough cleaning routines. These protocols have been reviewed by the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Health Unit, the provincial government, Athletics Ontario, the health director of the Boston Marathon, and the Town of Prescott. Prescott's FTNR race is the first race in Ontario to have created COVID-19 race protocols, and Athletics Ontario was so impressed they want to use FTNR protocols as a template for recommendations to other races as they open up to the public.

The event will look very different this year, but will still show off the beauty of our Fort and the Prescott and Johnstown waterfront. To accommodate runners and walkers while respecting social distance and smaller crowds, they will be given staggered starting time slots from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The race timing will count them from the moment they cross the starting time to the moment they cross the finish.

Participants can choose one of three distances, which all start and finish at Fort Wellington. The 5k route follows the Heritage River Trail, then goes along downtown King Street, into Centennial Park, and then through Prescott's older residential neighbourhoods, passing dozens of historic homes. The 10k route goes along Highway 2 to Windmill Road and past the Battle of the Windmill, then returns to join the 5k route. The new 15k route continues along Windmill Road and through the Port of Johnstown right onto the Boardwalk, then rejoins the 10k and 5k routes. The participants will all receive a race t-shirt, medal and headlamp. There are prizes for best race times as well as Spirit Awards.

For those individuals who are not ready to run at a public event but would still like to support the Fort Town Night Run, there is also a virtual race option. Those who sign up for the Virtual Run will still receive a t-shirt, medal and headlamp, and can run on their own time in their neighbourhood or on a treadmill. The FTNR organizers will also be taking a video of the race route, so people can experience Prescott's beautiful views along the course even if they cannot attend in person.

The ever-popular Kids 1k Fun Run will come back this year, but will occur the day after the main run, on Sunday, September 27, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Participants will receive a commemorative buff and a finisher's medal.

Registration for all races must be done by August 15 to reserve a time slot. There will be no registrations on race day. For more information, or to register for the races, or to volunteer, visit www.forttownnightrun.com.

The Fort Town Night Run is organized entirely by volunteers and all proceeds are donated to The Youth Movement Project and local youth charities. This event will require many volunteers and are seeking new volunteers who can help for a few hours or all day. Our theme this year is PRESCOTT STRONG. As always, residents can cheer on participants by making posters, decorating their houses along the route, playing music, and of course clapping and encouraging them as they run by. We want to show our race participants our "Prescott Strong" and sharing our community spirit during this full-day walking and running event. There is even our Neon Spirit Award for the best community cheering section.

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