Light up the night

Runners start the “Light Up the Night” 5K at Cody Park on Saturday Night. The race, part of the Platte River Fitness Series, is sponsored by the student council at North Platte Public High School. It raises money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, which arranges special experiences for children with critical illnesses.

The Platte River Fitness Series road races will not have in-person competition at least through the end of August due to ongoing safety concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

The races and triathlons that were planned for August have either been canceled or will be virtual events.

“Being a source of an outbreak that would cause someone we love to be at risk, or keep our kids from going back to school was too great a concern to bear,” PRFS director Trudy Merritt wrote Tuesday in a Facebook post she titled “An Open Letter to the PRFS family.”

Merritt wrote that she had developed a plan for the August races and set the precautions that would need to be in place for the competitors. But she added that it was apparent to her and the August race directors that “what we would need to do to mitigate community spread of this mean disease would leave us with something that looks little like the events we know and love.”

That led to the decision to hold off on in-person events.

With that, the Nebraskaland Days 5K, 10K and mile events that are North Platte’s longest-running road races will become a virtual event this year. Participants will have through the end of August to complete their runs and send their results to the Platte River Fitness Series.

The Sutherland Firecracker 5K, 10K and mile, held over the Fourth of July weekend, also was a virtual event.

In addition, the James O’Rourke Memorial Triathlon Aug. 7-8 has been canceled along with Michelle’s Tri-Sprint Triathlon and the Hershey Fall Festival Adventure 5K, scheduled for Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, respectively.

Three previously scheduled road races in the series were canceled earlier this year as well — the Twilight 5K, family mile and dog walk; the Lincoln County Fair 5K; and the Light Up the Night.

Merritt said the public health situation will be reassessed in late August for the eight races scheduled in the fall and beyond.

“I have been praying for August to get here to bring us all together,” Merritt wrote in her Facebook post. “However, in the long view, if we are cautious, we will be together again, but in a time without the separation we would have to have right now.”

A decision has already been made for one of the fall events, however.

Committee members for the Chris Jarvis Autumn River Run voted earlier this week to have the marathon, half-marathon and 5K, set for Oct. 4, be a virtual event.

Two other events are scheduled for fall after being postponed earlier this year.

The Share-A-Spare 5K Color Run is scheduled for Sept. 26 after being moved from the initial date of July 18. The Lake to Lake Relay, originally scheduled for May 31, has been moved to Oct. 17.

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