Runners line up for region’s first in-person race since beginning of COVID-19 pandemic

About 100 participants gathered for the races

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – In-person running events have returned to the Roanoke Valley.

The Backpack Run 5K and 10K races at Green Hill Park attracted about a hundred participants Saturday morning.

The race was organized by Roanoke County Public Schools, and money from registrations benefits the district’s education fund.

District spokesperson Chuck Lionberger believes this is the region’s first in-person running event since the COVID-19 pandemic intensified last year.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide an opportunity for runners who are just itching to get back on the course,” Lionberger said. “We were a little worried earlier in the year, but when the governor said races can take place, there was no question after that.”

Many of the runners took part in virtual races throughout the pandemic, but Sam LaFaye said nothing compares to running alongside competitors.

“Seeing the people’s faces while you’re running...that was an eye-opener for me after so long away,” said LaFaye. “This is a great relief. Running is my away place from the stress of the world.”

Alleghany High School student Eric Honaker won the Backpack Run’s 5K event. He said he’s proud that he powered through the rust and crossed the finish line first.

“It’s pretty hard to give everything you’ve got at the very end, but that’s what I always tell my team to do,” Honaker said. “We’ve got to give our all at the end, and that’s what matters.”

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