Run & Ride goes virtual
The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to halt a Scripps Ranch tradition this year, but thanks to some tenacity and innovation, the Scripps Ranch Old Pros will host its 42nd annual summer fundraiser.
Named the Freedom Run & Ride this year, the event – normally held on the Fourth of July – will consist of five virtual events, spanning from June 25 to July 15. There will be a two-mile “fun run,” a 10K run, a 12-mile bike ride, a 28-mile bike ride, and a 50-mile bike ride. Each event can be run or biked from any location its participants choose.
“You can run, jog, walk or bike on the road, on the trail, on a track, or even on a treadmill at the gym,” said Old Pros spokesman Steve Trifoglio. “You have freedom to run your own course or bike your own route at your own pace.”
The Old Pros have reduced the entry fee this year to $30 for adults and $15 for children, no matter what event. Proceeds from the Freedom Run & Ride will fund the $35,000 in youth sports scholarships that the organization presents every year to graduating seniors from Scripps Ranch and will also support the area’s youth sports leagues.
“I’ve been involved with this Fourth of July fundraiser for 20 years now,” said Trifoglio, who served as “czar” as the Old Pros call the position, in 2018 and 2019. (This year’s czar is Brian Ondek.)
“We usually draw between 3,500 and 4,000 participants, but there was no way that was going to happen this year,” Trifoglio said.
Although the Run & Ride is usually a one-day event, it requires more than six months of meetings to plan and organize.
“We started having conversations before the new year, and then of course, the pandemic came,” Trifoglio said. “We knew by May that we couldn’t do this the traditional way. We were down to three options: one, hope beyond hope that things would change; two, change it to another day like Labor Day; or three, cancel it. Luckily, we came up with a fourth option to preserve tradition.”
While a virtual community event has its drawbacks, it also provides certain advantages, according to the Old Pros. For example, it will allow people to participate in the Scripps Ranch fundraiser from anywhere in the world. In fact, Trifoglio said his organization has already received an application from an individual in Puerto Rico.
Some of the Old Pros planners had heard that similar events were going virtual this year, so they took that and “ran with it.” There were other elements to the longstanding event however, that would have to be amended or rethought as well.
The beer garden in Hoyt Park had always been a huge draw following the Run & Ride. With current public health concerns prohibiting such public gatherings, Trifoglio said the Old Pros decided to partner with several local restaurants and breweries to create a “goody bag.”
“Participants can use their bib as a coupon at over 15 different community establishments for pizza, breweries, pastries, frozen yogurt,” Trifoglio said. “We think it’s a win-win proposition that will help local business to recover.”
Partnering eateries include Yanni’s Bar & Grill, the French Oven Bakery, Pazzo’s Pizza, Yogurt Heaven and Harland Brewing Company.
Another Old Pros summer tradition linked to the Fourth of July fundraiser is the on-stage presentation of scholarships to local recipients during the June concert in Hoyt Park, presented by Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park.
“Obviously, we can’t do that this year,” Trifoglio acknowledged.
Instead the club held a drive-by scholarship distribution on Canyon Lake Drive next to Hoyt Park on June 6. There were lots of people to cheer on the young Scripps Ranch athletes and celebrate their accomplishments as they passed by in their cars.
The Scripps Ranch Old Pros is a nonprofit community organization founded by Scripps Ranch residents in 1982 to facilitate social interaction, organize local sports leagues and raise funds for scholarships for high school athletes in Scripps Ranch.
Participants should register before midnight June 17 to receive an official shirt, bib and schwag by June 24.To register for the Old Pros’ Fourth of July Freedom Run & Ride, or for more information, visit https://runride.org/