Rachel Vollemans and Marissa Sivyer maintain proper distances while enjoying some outdoor fun.

Social distancing is in. Thankfully, so is distance running. 

Marathon resident Lara Rutskin-Martin has organized a virtual run for almost every weekend. Last weekend it was the tutu run. On Sunday, May 10, it’s a Mother’s Day challenge. She was also the architect of a virtual 2020 Seven Mile Bridge Run, a panacea for disappointed athletes when the actual race was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Lara Rutskin-Martin poses with her two daughters. Look for them on Mother’s Day as they participate in the virtual run on Sunday, May 10.

Rutskin-Martin posts the run events on the Facebook page “Hapynkeys Running.” Then she picks a theme, posts a start time and encourages everyone to take photos to upload to the social media site or post a screen grab of a running map that marks the distance. There are no rules, and participants are invited to run or walk a 5k or 10k. Or any distance. At any pace.

More than 20 took part in the tutu race. Many gravitate toward Marathon’s Sombrero Beach as a starting and ending point, using the wide sidewalk for proper social distancing. But racers don’t even have to be in the Keys.

“This has become really popular. In fact, some of the tutu racers ran their course in Hollywood Beach,” she said, adding that the tutu race photo album had more than 1,300 views.

Next on the calendar is the Mama Rocks Virtual Run on Sunday, May 10. The starttime is posted at 8 a.m., but again, that’s just a suggestion. 

Rutskin-Martin said her wide circle of running buddies keep each other motivated. They post a picture or send it in a group message. “It just encourages people,” she said. “Like, ‘Hey, I did it today. It’s hot, but I ran anyways.’”

Vanessa and Savannah Chamberlain take on the tutu challenge this past weekend. CONTRIBUTED

On Saturday, May 16, there will be another virtual run with a slightly different format. It’s a “replacement” for the canceled Keys 100 race from Key Largo to Key West. Rutskin-Martin has organized a group of 19 runners to run 100 miles.

“Each person has a pre-set mileage to run and when we total it up, it will equal 100 miles,” she said. If anyone else wants to form a group, Rutskin-Martin said she’s happy to help organize. “I love coordinating all that stuff.”

Rutskin-Martin is a Realtor by trade, married to Marathon High School’s athletic director, Lance Martin. She’s always been a runner and once did a 50-mile ultra run. She took a break when her two daughters were very young, but got back into the game about two years ago.

“We are heavy into sports, a very active family,” she said. “During quarantine, staying home and doing arts and crafts … well, that’s not my thing.” 

For more details, search Facebook “Hapynkeys Running.”
• Sunday, May 10: Mama Rocks Virtual Run at 8 a.m.
• Saturday, May 16: Keys 100 Virtual Run
• Monday, May 25: Memorial Day Virtual Run

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