Sports Backers Announce ‘Great American 5000’ Virtual Race Across America

May 15, 2020

Feeding America to serve as event charity partner for 5,000-kilometer challenge

Richmond, VA – Sports Backers, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit active-living advocacy organizations, is announcing their new ‘Great American 5000’ virtual race beginning on Flag Day, June 14. In the endurance challenge, participating teams compete with the aim of covering the 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) distance of a pre-selected course between the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco and Atlantic Ocean in New York. Registration is now open for the event, and course details and group registration information are available at www.GreatAmerican5000.org.

During the event, teams of up to 12 or 24 members will collectively run for a maximum 24 hours each day and report how far they covered at the end of that 24-hour period. An online map will track each group’s virtual progress across the course and a live leaderboard will display the standings in real time, with groups in male, female, and co-ed categories. The first group to virtually ‘reach’ the Atlantic Ocean in New York will be declared the winner. All participants will receive an event shirt, unique finisher medal, virtual finisher’s badge, and virtual travel experience with destination highlights featured along the route.

Feeding America (www.FeedingAmerica.org) will be the event charity partner of the Great American 5000. During the event, groups and participants can use their platform to raise funds and awareness for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Thanks to donations, the Feeding America network of food banks, pantries, and meal programs, including Feed More (www.FeedMore.org) in Central Virginia, serves virtually every community in the United States, reaching 40 million people, including 12 million children and seven million seniors.

“With the creation of this new event, we want to help people connect with each other on teams and to still compete in an athletic competition,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “The Great American 5000 provides the opportunity to make the dream of running across the country a little more real while raising money for Feeding America and supporting those in need during this crisis.”

“As a proud member of the Feeding America network in Central Virginia, and as a frequent collaborator with Sports Backers, Feed More has great experience working with both and I am very excited for this new event,” said Doug Pick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Feed More. “The innovation and inspiration behind the Great American 5000 should motivate many people to take part and support a great cause.”

Running across America is considered one of the great challenges in endurance sports, and the current world record for the feat is 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes, set by American runner Pete Kostelnick in 2016. Kostelnick’s route took him from San Francisco to New York, much like the course in the Great American 5000, and he is excited that others will have the opportunity for this virtual experience.  “What better way to kick off the summer than a virtual run trip with your friends for a great cause?” said Kostelnick of the Great American 5000. “Seeing and getting to know the United States by foot is an unmatched experience, and I’m thrilled Sports Backers is putting together a fun and engaging way to do it with your friends.”

Sports ETA (www.SportsETA.org) the nonprofit trade association for the sports tourism industry in the United States, will serve as a partner for the Great American 5000. Sports ETA acts as a resource for sports commissions and industry partners, and will help recruit sports commissions and destinations along the route to take part in the virtual event and add to the experience for participants.

“At Sports ETA, we believe that sporting events have the power to transform society for the better, and that certainly is the goal of the Great American 5000,” said Alan R. Kidd, President and CEO of Sports ETA. “Even though public health guidelines mean we can’t gather for in-person sporting events, we can still find creative ways to participate together, even from a distance. Working with Sports Backers, we hope to showcase that the sports tourism industry positively impacts communities and that we are ready to do what it takes to safely bring sports back into our lives.”

In addition to the real-time leaderboard available during the Great American 5000, teams will receive photos, information, and fun facts about the destinations visited along the route, allowing them to virtually take in the rich mix of history, geography, and culture to be experienced throughout the United States. Full event details and registration are currently available at www.GreatAmerican5000.org.


About Sports Backers

With a key message of Let’s Go, RVA, the mission of Sports Backers is to inspire people from all corners of our community to live actively. A non-profit organization, Sports Backers is dedicated to producing nationally recognized quality sporting events and programs that motivate residents and visitors alike to be more active, supporting youth running and fitness programs, and advocating for safe and connected networks of bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Learn more at sportsbackers.org.