Relief Run is making it possible for runners to sign up for a virtual 5K or half marathon that benefits relief and recovery efforts in Australia.

By Renee Cherry
January 09, 2020

Australia is in the midst of one of its worst fire seasons on record. At least 27 people have died, over 2,000 homes have been destroyed, and an estimated 1 billion animals have been affected by the fires, according to CNN. While there are plenty of ways to donate to Australia's wildfire relief efforts, runners who want to pitch in can participate in races to help the cause. The organization Relief Run is helping people to sign up for virtual solo runs and community runs that will benefit the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. (Related: The Best Running Apps to Help You Train for Your Next Race)

Australian ultramarathon runner, Samantha Gash dreamed up Relief Run as a way to encourage runners to come together to help the cause. She came up with the idea after feeling discouraged by news updates and social media posts about the bushfires, she explained on the podcast Seize the Yay. "I came to this 'aha moment' where I was like, 'Okay, well, what are my options?' Because I can't stay in this state of paralysis and being overwhelmed and being uncomfortable," she said. Gash realized she could donate, but she could also try something bigger, she shared on the podcast.

Within days, Relief Run was set into motion. Through a partnership with the running app Strava, the global event invites runners of all abilities to sign up for a half marathon or 5K. Each run has a sign-up fee of $50 AUD (about $34 USD), and all proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, according to the Relief Run website.

After signing up via Relief Run's website, runners will be able to run (or walk) the virtual race from anywhere in the world, at any time on Saturday, January 18 and/or Sunday, January 19. Runners can also record their run through a Strava Challenge on the Strava app. (Related: How to Run Back-to-Back Races Without Killing Your Body)

Over the last few days, people across Australia, as well as folks from around the world, have been organizing community runs to benefit the effort.

As of Thursday, Relief Run has raised about $280,000, according to Gash's latest Instagram post.

For those who are interested in contributing to the cause, head to Relief Run's website to learn how to coordinate your own virtual run, or find out if anyone in your area has already formed a local running group you can join.

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