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Chester County Press

Kennett Run to go virtual in 2021

05/04/2021 07:52PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

If at any time in the middle of May you happen to notice a runner or a walker wearing the now familiar and colorful Kennett Run swag along a local road, an outdoor track or a park trail, it’s because for the first time in its long history, the Kennett Run is going virtual – and viral.

Once confined to Anson B. Nixon Park and the avenues and streets of Kennett Square, the annual charity event is abandoning its normal routes this year in accordance with COVID-19 safety regulations that caused the cancelation of the 2020 event.

In its place, race organizers are giving this year’s participants the opportunity to complete their 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer of one-mile run/walk at a time and place of their choosing, any time over a nine-day period beginning on May 15 and ending at midnight on May 23. For a $35 entrée fee, each participant will receive a 2021 Kennett Run t-shirt, a race bib and other give-a-ways, and have the opportunity to post their finish times on the Kennett Run’s social media pages.

“We realized that the only way we could sponsor the race this year was to do a socially distant event, but then it led to the idea of tracking everyone’s times, and that would require us to have our usual course, and permits were not being handed out for events at the park,” said JJ Simon, who is now in his fifth year as the Kennett Race director. “So if we couldn’t have a place, then the virtual concept became the way to go, and we expanded it to give people the freedom to do this any time and anywhere, over a nine-day period.

“Having a virtual race this year will not require nearly as many logistics of putting on a race of this kind, such as permits, food, water, tents, so a lot more of the registration fees will be going to the many organizations that Kennett Charities supports.”

As of last week, more than 250 participants have already registered for this year’s Kennett Run.

While the virtual run this year certainly has its advantages for contestants – particularly those who are less competitive than others – Simon does not see this concept as a permanent feature of the Kennett Run.

“If we’re having to take our fourth and fifth booster shot in order to achieve herd immunity by 2022, then perhaps we may be forced to do another virtual run next year, but I can’t see both being done on the same day,” he said. “When we are allowed to get back together, people are going to flood the places where we can reconvene, and that holds true for the Kennett Run.”

One of the most popular sideshows of the last Kennett Run held in May 2019 was the “Race Like Its 1989” theme that invited participants to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the race. Throughout the length of the race and at the Party in the Park after the race, dozens of walkers and runners were dressed in the remnants and clothing of the late 1980s, and many walked away with special prizes for the originality of their costumes. 

The same theme – and any theme within reason – will be perfectly acceptable for the 2021 race. Best yet, participants will be able to post photos of their chosen costumes, as well as their fellow runners and walkers, on the race’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

 “This year’s Kennett Run will be about having fun and being visible,” said Simon.

“It won’t be as much of a race this year as it will be a large social event that will take place over nine consecutive days.”

To learn more about the 2021 virtual Kennett Run and to register for the event, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].