Live Race Planned Over 12-Hour Window To Ensure Social Distancing

Tim Moran

ORLAND PARK, IL — With the coronavirus pandemic, several thousand races in 2020 have been cancelled. But not the Veterans Liberty Run/Walk in Orland Park, a race that has 1-mile or 2-mile options through Centennial Park.

To ensure social distancing, race start times will be staggered over a 12-hour period on July 3. Participants can check in at any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., with a start wave of a maximum of 25 people starting the race every hour. Participants in each heat can start at any time during their assigned hour, with the starting chute having staggered start times and 6' distancing markers.

The Veterans Liberty Run/Walk, organized annually by the village of Orland Park's Parks and Recreation department, usually draws anywhere from 350-400 runners every year, according to Nabeha Zegar, communications manager for the village. But with the 25-participant limit for each of the 13 starting heats, the maximum number of participants this year will be 325.

Zegar said the village wanted to give runners and walkers "the experience of an actual run while remaining cognizant of current CDC recommendations" with so many other 2020 races being canceled or held virtually.

"The Veterans Liberty Run/Walk is a great Orland Park tradition that kicks off the Village’s 4th of July events," Zegar said. "The goal is to continue this tradition by creating a race that honors our veterans and allows us to celebrate Independence Day all while maintaining social distancing requirements."

The start and finish of the race will be on the same street, but split to create a separation.

"Participants are being asked to stay to their right throughout the course to allow for distancing," Zegar said. "When passing another runner, participants are asked to pass wide."

The entry fee is $8 for Orland Park residents and $14 for non-residents. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local veterans organizations, according to the race description.

Other changes to the event due to the pandemic include a lack of on-site sponsors, refreshments being self-served, grab and go and not having awards.

This article originally appeared on the Orland Park Patch