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Boston qualifiers run virtual marathon locally

Submitted Photo Above, from left, Brooke Adams, Greg Brink, Judy Porpiglia, Sherri McCall and Irv King run near Cassadaga as part of the virtual 124th Boston Marathon. Both Adams and Porpiglia qualified to run in Boston this year before the race was changed due to COVID-19.

There is no substitute for the atmosphere that runners get to enjoy at the historic Boston Marathon, but local qualifiers Brooke Adams and Judy Porpiglia certainly made the most of their virtual race Saturday.

The pair, along with thousands of other Boston hopefuls, adapted their plans after the 124th running of the race was delayed and finally canceled due to COVID-19.

Qualifiers were given the opportunity to run the race virtually, covering 26.2 miles of terrain wherever they like and then submitted the results to race officials digitally.

For the 31-year-old Adams of East Aurora and 51-year-old Porpiglia of Sinclairville, that meant reaching out to the “Chautauqua Run Club” for some support.

“We have a pretty close-knit running community group and reached out to them, and everyone wanted to run it with us,” Adams said. “We pretty much were the race directors and planned this event.”

Submitted Photo Judy Porpiglia, Brooke Adams and a group of runners ran a virtual Boston Marathon on Saturday.

At 7 a.m. on Saturday, Adams and Porpiglia were joined by volunteering friends and a group of running companions for a 26.2-mile trek around a looped course starting in Cassadaga.

Pleasant weather and a community atmosphere completed the successful day.

“It really ended up being an amazing day,” Porpiglia said. “Brooke and I felt loved and honored to have so many close friends there with us. There were six of us who did the full thing, five of us running together throughout the whole course.”

Also finishing a full marathon Saturday were Irv King, Greg Brink, Sheri McCall and Katie Zwald, while other runners joined the group for different stages of the marathon.

“It was nice, they had a finish line set up,” Adams said. “We had several friends that were volunteers. We did a looped course so we did four loops and there were volunteers on the course. It was pretty cool how much they stepped it up and made it feel like a true marathon.”

Porpiglia and Adams are both of an opinion that is no doubt shared by other runners during COVID-19 — virtual races are just not the same. Running by yourself is very different from taking to the streets of a major city surrounded by hundreds or thousands of competitors.

“I know a lot of runners have been getting into it but I just can’t,” Adams said. “It is not the same to me, I really like the racing aspect. I really like running with other people, the whole event behind it. So for me this is the first virtual race I’ve done.”

If Saturday is any indication, one way to make the most of virtual races is to bring others into the fold.

“It wasn’t like a race, it was us being their for each other, supporting each other,” Adams said.

Also taking part in this year’s virtual Boston Marathon was Barb Crowley of Jamestown, who took to the streets between Bemus Point and Celoron starting at 5 a.m. on her way to a time of 4:22.19.

That pace was right around what Crowley expected on Friday, saying “I’m just focusing on 26.2 at a reasonable pace. Based on my last 20-mile (training run), I’m thinking around (4 hours, 15 minutes).”

COVID-19 has forced scheduling changes for runners across the world, upsetting all major marathons this summer including the London Marathon.

That race was scheduled to be the sixth and final World Major on Porpiglia’s, who was forced to reschedule that milestone to 2021.

“I completed my fifth star in Berlin last September. My final star was going to be London, and London originally was to take place in April of 2020,” Porpiglia said. “That is my intention right now, is to try for October of 2021. Again that is kind of all on the line depending how the COVID situation is. Our whole running schedule here has pretty much been canceled. Everything has turned into a virtual run or just postponed until next year.”

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