The Pear Blossom Run goes “virtual”

MEDFORD, Ore. —  Today would have been the annual Pear Blossom Run, but COVID-19 restrictions are forcing it to go virtual and run a different race this year.

Nathaniel and Heather Johnson sang the ceremonial and traditional national anthem to kick off the 2020 Pear Blossom races.

Heather usually runs the 10-mile race and won it in 2018, but she’ll have to run on her own this time around.

“You can actually run a long ways from Medford and you can run in another country and still run The Pear Blossom Run, which is different because of the virtual run,” race Co-Director, Chuck Whiteley, said.

That’s not the traditional Pear Blossom Run, but that’s how it has to be in 2020 for runners like Medford resident, Michelle Barnes, who trained with a partner for a couple of months prepping for the 10-mile race.

“It is a little bit of a disappointment, but it’s also what we make it. We get to create our own course, we get to do it whenever we want, any time of day, which is awesome and I’m excited about it,” Barnes said.

The race first started in 1977, but this year, runners have three weeks to register and complete a run wherever they choose in the world and log it online.

It was going to be Dustin Smith’s 30th straight Pear Blossom Run and he already ran 10 miles on his own.

“With everybody down here for the race and stuff it gives you a lot more energy to do your best and run faster because you feel all the energy of the people. A little different this year, but I still wanted to go out and do the race,” Smith said.

This year, race organizers added more prize categories:

·         Fastest time

·         Most elevation gain

·         Most weight pushed in a stroller

·         Cutest 4 legged running partner

·         Best costume

·         Participating from the furthest away from Medford

·         Youngest runner

·         Oldest runner

·         Most years competed in the Pear Blossom Run

Race directors and organizers recommend not running the traditional course and to pick a completely different route.

“It’s because we don’t have all the safety measures in place and there’s some pretty tight spots on that road, so please pick someplace that is very safe, some place you’re familiar with and run your best race,” Whiteley said.

One winner already announced is Joe Dittberner, winner of the t-shirt design contest.

You can register for the virtual run here.

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NBC5 News weather forecaster Aaron Nilsson is a Southern California native, but most recently lived in Seattle. He's also lived in Sweden and Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors Degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Scandinavian Studies. While at BYU, he covered sports for BYUtv. Aaron is not new to the Medford/Klamath Falls market. He was a local TV journalist from 2013-2017. Outside the station, Aaron enjoys music, traveling, sports, movies, and cooking. His favorite sport is soccer.
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