Virtual clubs

A map posted on the Keeping Distance Facebook page shows a running route along the Laramie River Greenbelt.

Running, cycling and other endurance sports are generally solitary endeavors, but athletes find many ways to bring a social element to their training.

In the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that means virtual running and cycling groups and events in place of in-person meetups. Several such groups have sprung up in Laramie in the last month.

Dewey Gallegos, who owns the Pedal House, has started posting virtual group rides on the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Cyclists are encouraged to ride the routes themselves and post pictures online.

Rides have taken cyclists to the Schoolyard Trails and Hutton Lake, and Gallegos is planning some that tour local monuments and are geared for families.

Cycling is a good way to exercise and spend time outside, and Gallegos is always looking for ways to invite more people into the bike community.

“We want to encourage that group community that cycling is popular for,” he said. “That’s as close as we can right now.”

Jon Gardzelewski was training for a half-marathon this spring before the coronavirus wiped clean the calendar of races around the world. He found himself suddenly without the motivation to continue his daily regimen.

“I was doing a lot of training, but then I hit a wall,” he said.

So, he started Keeping Distance, a running group on Facebook aimed at offering accountability and motivation for himself and other local runners.

“This time, more than ever, you need to be trying to stay healthy,” he said.

He makes maps of routes around town that other runners share with him, inviting runners to try the routes on their own schedule.

“It’s been fun to post these different runs and encourage people to get outside,” he said.

Another local runner, Eric Quallen, started a Facebook group called Corona Runners.

“It’s more or less a place for accountability, to keep active, and also to share information about running routes and trail conditions,” he said.

Quallen schedules times for runners to visit area trail systems. Runners can then continue their solo training while know others are in the area at the same time.

“People can park in a spot and see that there are other folks from the group going out for a run, say hi and go their own ways,” he said.

Quallen runs ultra-marathons, which are races that can be 50-100 miles long, but he said the sport has positive benefits at any distance.

“I love to get other people into it, whether short or long, slow or fast,” he said.

He said running was a sport to consider trying while gyms are closed and normal routines have been upended.

“Now is a great time — when people are working from home or maybe not working at all — to get involved in something new,” Quallen said.

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