Rambling Roads: Virus Fears

By George A. Hancock

A potent invisible virus has transformed our landscape. The United States went from impeachment news, a dwindling presidential primary, and a growing green spring season to a national shut-down crisis.

This invisible virus moved freely and swiftly across the globe. The COVID-19 virus attacked freely. Some age groups were more vulnerable to this virus. Individuals with other health issues were also in a high-risk category.

I noted in my local Johnstown Tribune-Democrat newspaper monthly column the striking similarities with the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu epidemic and our current coronavirus outbreak.

Self-distancing, frequent soap-and-water hand washings, avoiding touching one’s face, and wearing masks work. Health officials learned from studying the 1918 Spanish flu that isolation, quarantines, plus wearing masks helps stop the continued spread of this disease.

Right now there is no vaccine for this virus. Our scientific community has made huge research strides since the 1918 era. A vaccine is a distinct possibility. We will soon know if these current protective measures prove fruitful.

Of course, the coronavirus strain disrupted our running world. Some runners were affected more than others. Road racers, trail racers were thwarted in their racing efforts by race postponements or cancellations.

Runners in large urban areas faced difficulties with the requested shut-down notifications. Many local parks and trails were closed. Gyms were closed as were many school tracks and other facilities.

Forty-seven years now for me as a daily road runner. I started road running in 1973 at age 20. My road-racing career began in 1976. I ran alone. We all ran alone. Running in those days was a solitary sport. Group runs as held now were absent in my locale.

I did participate in long-distance group runs in the mid ’80s. Every Sunday morning about five or six of us got together for a long run. Sometimes other runners from the surrounding region would join us. This Sunday run get together lasted for nearly two years. The runs were fun and very productive.

So, solo runs for me are not an issue. 99% of my daily runs over my running career were solo. The other 1% were road races. I ran 500 races from 1976 through 2017. I stopped road racing in late 2017 due to several herniated lumbar disc issues. One disc issue was surgically addressed in 2018 with superb results. There is another disc issue, but so far I’m running pain free.

I run every day just before 6 a.m. I seldom see another runner or walker here in Greater Johnstown. There are other runners in the region but our paths never cross. This means I’m running my normal road routes without any virus fears. The only surface I touch is the surrounding roads and streets.

I’m also retired. Going-to-work worries are absent. My wife, Brenda, is still working. Our son Cory is a civil engineer working at home. I stay out of his way especially during conference calls.

I seldom frequent stores and shops anyway. My wife, per one person/one cart guidelines, visits our regular grocery stores once a week after work. My hobby, running needs, and special-interest items are purchased online. I have no real choice here. Retail outlets in my region are poor.

We do have numerous excellent eating establishments. However, many are closed. Some are open for takeout orders only. I do miss this restaurant option.

Another place I miss is our local Highland Community Library. I’m a regular volunteer performing various tasks for the library. We have several book clubs and numerous programs for all ages. Sadly, our library is closed until further notice. I miss these library events.

Our region’s mild winter and earlier spring finds me outside performing numerous yard-work tasks. I purchased most of my needed yard materials during a warmer February time period.

I’m also working in my son and girlfriend’s yard. They are renovating a house that sits on two acres. There is plenty to do during the renovation process. The yard work continues in the delicious spring weather. The finished sections are pleasing during these difficult times.

The bottom line here is I’m running every day and working outside without fear. This coronavirus strikes sections of our nation differently. Large, densely populated urban areas see and feel the full brunt of this nasty virus. Areas like Greater Johnstown, at least as of this writing, are not experiencing the full virus effect.

The posted virus advice is sound. Practice the recommended guidelines. A run or walk is a superb way to view Mother Nature’s spring change. One can walk or run in a safe and healthy manner.

History reveals troubling features like the Spanish Flu and this coronavirus do ease. This virus was a disruption. Yet, we will move on. Stay safe, stay healthy!

What Runners are Doing

Compiled by Karen Mitchell

In the words of our friend Dayo Akinbode of Lagos, Nigeria:
“I registered for the 2020 Kaunas Marathon [in Lithuania] which was slated for the 26th of April, 2020. It was supposed to be my 75th marathon in my 62nd country. But alas, that marathon didn’t happen.”
Instead, she ran it virtually on her 10-meter kitchen balcony!! **See her video.**

Karen Hendricks is a journalist and a local runner. In her words:
Running friends . . . separate, but together at heart for this weekend’s “Running Is NOT Cancelled” virtual races by Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg. 250 runners raised a total of $1,300 for Heart to Heart International, distributing COVID-19 medical supplies. And this was my 30th of 50 races to benefit 50 causes.
Race recap here: 

#RunningisNotCancelled Running together, but separately. (Photo courtesy of Karen Hendricks)

Jeff Paladina is an official ambassador for Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. In his words:
13,000 virtual participants, including local residents and displaced Pittsburghers in 43 states and five countries.
1/3 of them were first time racers.
1,100 of them were raising money for the Run for a Reason Charity Program raising 400K so far for charity.
PROUD of all my friends and my family that took part in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon virtual edition!
#HBGrunsPGH #MovePittsburgh!

All are social distancing, even the dog. Carrying their own water, too. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Paladina and James McAndrew)

Kati Jaeger of Germany organized the Easter World Run 2020 as a Facebook group, currently with 2,038 members. In her words:

RUNNERS ALL OVER THE WORLD: In times of coronavirus we are not allowed to run neither in groups nor in races. What can we do? Let’s run together! Let’s run around the world! Let’s keep the distance. Who will run with us?
Easter Saturday, April 11th, 2020 at 09:00 a.m. (in each time zone in the world) a relay around the world will emerge. Let us set an example against loneliness in this time. Let’s run together and still pay attention to social distancing. Let’s run for those of us that can’t . . . Together we are strong!

(Photo courtesy of Kati Jaeger)

Categories: Features

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