BERLIN — Although Berlin’s annual RiverFire event has been canceled for this year, the 8th annual RiverFire 5-kilometer race will continue as a virtual event.
The race which benefits RESPONSE, a domestic and sexual violence support center, can be run in two ways — either running or walking a 3 1/10-mile route of the participant's own choosing and or being divided up in different lengths.
According to Dr. Madeline Bedard Ryan, the main organizer of the event, "COVID-19 may have canceled our live event, but it has not canceled those affected by domestic and sexual violence.”
Ryan said: "Seven years ago, we wanted to schedule the event as a fundraiser for RESPONSE but after talking with Paula Kinney we decided to combine it with the Annual RiverFire event. The first event we figured on 80 to 100," but 250 ended up taking part.
"We had to hire a timing company," Ryan said, "and I went to the Androgscoggin Valley Hospital staff and asked if they could help with the costs of the timing company. The AVH staff raised the money to pay for the timing company and has done so ever since. AVH staff has challenged the other three Coos County hospitals to match them if they can in donations. Our awards are donated also. The state prison hobby craft shop makes the awards and donates them to us every year.
“Last year we had great weather, we had 336 registered runners — the most ever. We netted $16,500 for RESPONSE. Over the past seven years, we have raised $56,000," she added.
"We knew in March that RiverFire would not happen," she said but since the 5K is RESPONSE's main fundraiser, they began to brainstorm, "How do we raise funds for RESPONSE?"
It's especially important this year as Ryan said since COVID-19 hit, "we have seen an uptick in domestic violence.”
The idea came about to continue the race as a virtual event. Runners would register for the event then pick out their route and run it. It can be done in phases or by walking or running.
"We are hoping people will send pictures, but this is being done on the honor system there will be no checking back," she said, noting, "The 3 1/10 miles could be done all at once or in phases or over a few days, and you could even begin now.”
The idea is just to get as many people to participate as possible. People can use a Fitbit or mileage tracker to keep track of their miles. Even if you just keep track of the miles you walk in a day, that can count.
“The advantage with a virtual event is we can get people from anywhere to participate,” Ryan said.
RESPONSE is adding to their Facebook pages so people’s pictures can be posted on it.
Registration began Sept. 1 and runs through October 23. Participants must complete their registration by Oct. 23. You can register online at coosfamilyhealth.org or avhnh.org. Or if you want, you can download the registration form print it and mail with your registration fee, to CCFHS 133 Pleasant St., Berlin NH 03570.
Ryan said there are two alternate registration fees — one for $12 where you receive a mask and decal, or one for $20, where you receive a mask, decal and T shirt.
“Registration must be finished by Oct. 23 so we know how many to order,” she said.
For locals, paper registration forms will be available at Androscoggin Valley Hospital and the Coos County family health offices.
Dr. Bedard Ryan, a retired podiatris,t calls herself “the mad runner” and has run all the 4,000-footers in New Hampshire. In 2018, she ran the Trans Rockies run in Colorado, which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Ryan ran 120 miles in six days and also ran the Across New Hampshire trail, which is 83 miles across the state.