Virtual Wildcat Fun Run creates safe and connecting homecoming event

Photo+courtesy+of+Jennifer+Edgeworth-Longardner+HOMECOMING+HUSTLE%E2%80%94The+2020+homecoming+Virtual+Wildcat+Fun+Run+is+in+full+swing%2C+as+1997+NMU+graduate+Jennifer+Edgeworth-Longardner+was+one+of+the+first+participants+to+send+in+a+picture+of+the+completed+race.+The+NMU+Alumni+Association+is+looking+to+include+more+virtual+events+even+when+in-person+events+are+allowed.%0A%0A

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Edgeworth-Longardner HOMECOMING HUSTLE—The 2020 homecoming Virtual Wildcat Fun Run is in full swing, as 1997 NMU graduate Jennifer Edgeworth-Longardner was one of the first participants to send in a picture of the completed race. The NMU Alumni Association is looking to include more virtual events even when in-person events are allowed.

Travis Nelson

The 2020 homecoming festivities at NMU will look quite different than before, but the valiant attempts to make it special are still taking place. 

The Alumni Fun Run 5K will be a staple event of this year’s homecoming, and it involves the return of a 5K run that used to be a prevalent activity in the September celebration. A fun run used to be done at homecoming every year in typical in-person fashion, Digital Engagement Architect for Alumni Relations Kylie Bunting said. Through all of the planning, the decision was made to bring it back.

“It was one that’d been done for many years and then it kind of disappeared. When we were trying to figure out what we could do in place of the in-person events that we usually do for homecoming weekend, we thought this would be fun to bring it back and it would be a fun way to see if people are interested and fairly low cost on our end to be able to do this virtually,” Bunting said.

As of Wednesday, Sept. 16, there were 140 contestants signed up all around the country, including the states of Washington, Florida, California and Texas among them, Bunting said. From this event, it has been discovered that there will be plans to continue to put on virtual events even when in-person events are allowed again because of the connections that it brings, Bunting said.

“We still wanted to be sure that we had the opportunity to connect with our alumni. Homecoming is one of the most important weekends for Wildcats. Everybody loves to come back, especially the alumni, they love to come back to Marquette,” Bunting said. “We knew we had to do something, we knew it couldn’t be in-person so that’s why we tried to get people involved in as many ways as possible and still have a fun time over this homecoming time period.”

Not only is this important for the community and alumni to remain in touch through this event, but especially since people are searching for normalcy during this difficult time. It also can create reminiscing of better times.

“Being able to do events that kind of bring you back in and make you think of that nostalgia too of what my time was like when I was a student at NMU,” Bunting said. “It kind of just gives people an opportunity to connect with the university and to think about their past and what memories they have of NMU and being a Wildcat.”

Registration for the Virtual Wildcat Fun Run closes on Friday, Sept. 25 and the two week period for registered participants to complete the 5K will be between Saturday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 4. The cost for alumni and community members is $25, and the price includes a fun run T-shirt with proceeds going to the NMU Food Pantry. The cost for students is $15.

If participants registered before Sept. 1, they should have their shirts guaranteed for the race, but registering after that won’t guarantee that shirts will be in on time. However, T-shirts have been able to be sent and delivered within a couple of days, Bunting said. After participants complete their run while wearing their shirt, they should send an email to [email protected] with a picture of themselves to be entered into a drawing for an alumni swag bag, Bunting said.

“I think that it’s really great that we are going to be able to support the NMU Food Pantry too, obviously this is a time for need for our students so this is a fun way that the NMU community and alumni can give back to the students,” Bunting said. “[It’s] a great opportunity for our alumni to give back and then to also do something fun at the same time to celebrate homecoming the best we can.”