Running in the Midst of a Pandemic: Tysons Virtual 5K is a Success

A global pandemic didn’t stop runners in this year’s Food for Others “FFO” Tysons 5K & Fun Run, which took place “virtually” between September 25-27th.

Over 600 members of the community hit the streets, paths, and trails running and walking to raise more than $67,000 for a great cause. Proceeds from the event went towards securing food for over 3,400 hungry families living throughout Northern Virginia.

Tysons Partnership is grateful for the support of Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, who joined in with FFO staff to welcome racers and thank sponsors in a virtual opening ceremony. The program closed with a rousing performance of the National Anthem by local teen Jake Sizemore, who channelled the great Jimi Hendrix to give runners an extra boost.

Over the three-day race period, runners could be seen throughout Tysons wearing the official FFO branded race t-shirt while charting 5K routes of their own choosing. We’re happy to report that many racers made use of the “Open Street”on Tysons Boulevard. Final race results can be viewed here.

As an added layer of fun, prizes were awarded for photos of the best race costume, most creative route, best pet photo, and more. Multiple dogs were seen participating in the race and were even seen sporting running bibs. Several runners/running groups documented their race experiences.

Here’s a quick rundown of some the highlights:

Rachel McLean, who works in Community Relations at The Mather, chose her race route around Tysons to highlight its walkability and green space. Coming in 2023, The Mather is a luxury senior living community for adults aged 62 and older.

Future residents of The Mather came together as a team to participate in the race as well. The team included Karen Pyeatt who dressed as a banana during the race to be comical while also supporting FFO. Karen is an avid walker; in reference to the race, Karen shared, “I walked this morning from 7:35 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. covered 8900 steps and that is apparently 3.3 miles for a 5’1 inch lady.”  Soon-to-be Mather residents Peggy and Jim Love reported that they received several compliments regarding their Tysons virtual 5K branded t-shirts.

The Grow a Row Fairfax County “FC” group also successfully joined forces to create a running team. Grow a Row FC is a community-wide effort to grow fresh produce for FFO and its food pantry partners during this public health and economic crisis. Grow a Row FC grower Maryann Price ran with two friends and said, “Yesterday’s 5K, between the three of us, we are 206 years old. Maybe we can win against the ‘oldest team.’ We had fun.”

Stacey Evers, the founder of Grow a Row FC, participated in the race with her husband, son, and with their dogs. On a side note, Stacey Ever’s son, Sean, gleaned at the farmers’ markets with her all summer, and now knows all about FFO’s good work. Grow a Row FC team member, Trish Wotowiec, won the best costume prize and posted on Facebook, “I just ran a virtual 5K (yes, in a pea costume) to benefit Food for Others. My route was to the school gardens where I work, where we grow produce to donate to local families through Grow A Row FC. If these pics make you smile, please consider donating to your local food pantry if you are able.”

Tysons Partnership’s staff member, Ellen Gipko, also participated in the race and shared on Facebook that she was “Representing #Tysons Partnership and entering the FFO 5K contest for cutest pet: TANNER. Here he is getting ready to run the #OpenStreet in Tysons. (Tanner did more sniffing than running.)”

Search hashtag #FoodforOthers5K across social media for more scenes from the race.

The Tysons community stepped up in a big way to make this year’s event a success despite significant hurdles. Continued support of FFO and the community it serves is more critical today than ever before. The Partnership thanks all organizers, sponsors, and participants for going the extra mile.