Virtual 10 Days of Crim taking place instead of massive downtown Flint festival

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 7:19 PM EDT
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(6/2/2020) - For the first time in it's 44-year history, the Crim Festival of Races will be completely virtual.

It's being called the 10 Days of Crim scheduled for Aug. 14 to 23. Rather than having a formal event bringing tens of thousands of people together, participants are being encouraged to run or walk the races on their own and record their times online.

Organizers made the tough decision based on concerns over coronavirus.

"Given the data at hand, we could not hold the HAP Crim Festival of Races without putting people at risk," said Race Director Andrew Younger.

The number of cases is going down in Michigan, but the Crim draws runners and walkers from all over.

"Within the United States, we have people from 40 different states that come to Flint, Michigan, to run this race and that's just domestically, right?" said Crim Festival of Races board member Adrian Walker.

Racers are encouraged not to run or walk the Crim's 10-mile course because of social distancing and traffic concerns. Instead, alternative routes will be suggested.

"It gives people that are tied to Flint or feel a connection to the Flint area or the Crim itself, wherever they are in the world, an opportunity to be a part of the Crim," Younger said.

The virtual Crim still will have shirts, bibs and medals like normal. It's pretty much everything athletes know and love about the Crim -- minus the shoulder-to-shoulder interaction.

"We're an organization focused around health outcomes and positive health outcomes for this community," Walker said. "We thought it was responsible to follow the state guidelines around gatherings, again though still offer a virtual option."

Racers who are already registered for the Crim or the training program will have the choice of participating in the virtual Crim or deferring their registration to next year's festival.

With tens of thousands of runners and walkers not treading the bricks of Saginaw Street in August, downtown Flint businesses likely will absorb a loss of traffic.

"It's very different. Obviously, we get a lot of business from the Crim normally, but hopefully it won't affect us too much and I'm excited to see how it goes," said Blake Alejandro, who manages 501 Bar and Grill in downtown Flint.

The news of a virtual Crim festival comes just as restaurants and bars got approval to reopen dine-in services beginning next week. Not having the Crim go on as normal was not shocking to other businesses.

They'd love to see people helping out the local economy, but health and safety come first -- even as coronavirus cases continue to go down.

That's what Cafe Rhema Manager Sean Murray has from the beginning.

"It's unfortunate, but it's just where we're at at this time," he said. "We know that things are different. Things are going to change. We're adapting to that. The biggest thing is we want everyone to be safe."