As Election Day arrives, runners and running groups around the country have been coming together to drive up voter turnout in the 2020 Election.
During the 2016 presidential election, nearly 92 million eligible American citizens did not vote. Over the past few months we’ve seen how issues deeply entangled within the world of running are on the ballot this year. For example, climate change’s impact on the environment we run in, the racism BIPOC members of the running community continue to face, and the consequences of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response to races and the running industry. “The sport has always been political; running has been used as a critical platform for social change for decades,” writes Erin Strout in an article for Women’s Running that discusses running’s political roots.
Many of the challenges we’ve been forced to reckon with this year are broader political issues, and our votes can decide what the future of our sport will be. But that, of course, requires participation. Here are some ways that runners across the United States are using their platform to encourage political participation in the 2020 Election.
A Message in Motion
As fitness social media sharing platforms have become mainstream, runners have used “route art” as a unique way to show off their training and build a running community. But over the past month, some runners have begun to spell out “VOTE” and posting their maps on social media to show that they themselves are voting but also to encourage others in their social circles and networks to follow suit.
This has been part of the running brand Under Armour’s Map My Run challenge, which seeks to empower all athletes, recreational and professional, to go out and vote. Some examples include the Riot Squad Running Club in Baltimore, Md., Kristen Findley in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Body by Tony NYC in New York.
Anyone can join the Run to Vote Map My Run challenge and walk, run, or hike up to 11.3 miles to mark Election Day on November 3 – the final day of the challenge. All you need to do is log into the Map My Run app if you have an account, go for a run or walk, and share your results via social media with the #runtovote hashtag.
Using Their Platforms
We have also seen, more so than in elections prior to this, professional runners, groups, and industry leaders and influencers using their platforms to encourage fans and followers to involve themselves in the political process and vote.
That includes track stars like Marielle Hall, Mo Ahmed, Emily Infeld, Colleen Quigley, Rebecca Mehra, and Alexi Pappas using their social media platforms to encourage followers to get themselves to the polls. Running activists like Jordan Daniel, a Native American rights activist and marathoner, and groups like Black Men Run and Runners For Public Lands have also been vocal not just about driving up voter turnout, but asking us to consider what is at stake for underprivileged communities in this election.
As runner and community organizer Mary Cain told me during an interview for an article about climate change’s impact on runners, “I think as athletes we, depending on our platforms, can have a lot of influence on our local communities.” Even if it inspires just one more person to make it to the polls tomorrow, any action to encourage voter participation is powerful.
How to Vote
Tomorrow, Nov. 3, is the last day to make our voices heard at the polls. Seize this consequential moment to shape the future of American running, as well as the future of the nation. Find out everything you need to know about voting here.
Know that if you haven’t yet registered to vote, you can register tomorrow on Election Day in these states:
- The District of Columbia
- New Hampshire