Richmond Sports Backers Pivots by Creating Virtual Road Race

Jon Lugbill is part of a team that has run the Blue Ridge Relay Race for the past eight years. This event, like many others, has been adversely affected by Covid-19. Looking to keep people active during this time of crisis, as well as pivot from financial losses resulting from cancelled spring events in the Richmond, Virginia region, Jon and his team went to work.

Leaning on his experience in running races along with his colleague Bradley, who last year did a solo bike ride across America that covered 4,200 miles in just 23 days, the idea was hatched to create a virtual road race across the U.S., the Great American 5000.

“When coronavirus hit, people were screaming for community,” said Lugbill. Calling on partners, culling the sport commission’s database of runners and using technology firm Track Leaders, Jon and his team set up a 5,000 kilometer (3,120 mile) virtual relay race.

Starting June 14 in San Francisco and ending in New York, while the Great American 5000 is a virtual relay race, its runners are hitting the streets every day in their communities, logging miles.

Teams of 12 to 24 runners will compete by charting their daily miles into the online portal, with an interactive map tracking each group’s progress.

Thus far, nearly 160 teams, representing over 2,300 from 45 states, are ready to run. Proceeds benefit Feeding America, a network of food banks, pantries and meal programs that serve nearly 40 million people in the United States, in nearly every community. Thus far over $10,000 has been raised.

Through Richmond Sports Backer’s relationship with Sports ETA members, the sports commissions from Omaha, Nebraska, Tampa Bay, Florida, Gillette, Wyoming, Houston, Texas and Columbus, Ohio have all agreed to join this effort as promotional partners. Benefits of city participation include promoting your involvement by placing the event on your website, promoting the event as if it is coming to your community for real through e-mails and social media, promoting participation in the run to your database and publicizing local teams that are participating in the event to local media.

For more information on how you can be part of the Great American 5000, visit