“The most distant participant ran the race at the Gardens of Versailles. The 2020 Coke 10K turned out to be a social media bonanza."
“Mona Lisa: When all of this first came down, I was with my son for spring break. We were at a baseball tournament that week. That's when the news first started hitting. We were getting back to the hotel room, and it was all over the news. Then a newspaper reporter from here in Corinth called me and said, 'What are y'all gonna do about the Coke 10K?' I said, 'I don't know, but we're gonna have a race. That's all I know.'
It was March and the 10K is always the first Saturday in May. Kenneth started it 39 years ago and it’s become so much more than a race. The 10K weekend is huge, with other events scheduled around it, involving so many organizations and businesses, basically our whole community. People’s grown kids even come home for it.
Kenneth: We often have three generations of families running together. It’s really something. I just never would have imagined this when I first started running in 1977 and when we did that first Coke 10K. As a matter of fact, one person said that her two favorite holidays are Christmas and Coke 10K Weekend.
Mona Lisa: So people were looking to us, wondering what we were going to do. We just knew we couldn't cancel with 38 years of history and a 40th anniversary next year. We recognized that we might not be able to do it in May like we always do, but we would do something.
Kenneth: Registration had been open since November and as of March, 1000 people already had paid and signed up. So we had to formulate what we were going to do. At that time, some people were canceling races, some were claiming they were going to have them, and some said they were going to go virtual. In late May, the Boston Marathon said it was going virtual, so that option became a much bigger thing across the country.
Mona Lisa: Run Sign Up, the company that we do our registrations through, held a virtual symposium in June for all the races they do. They gave us the how-to’s of doing virtual because, you know, it’s so new. I'm very grateful that we switched to them several years ago because they really led us through a tough time.
Kenneth: In July, we announced we were going to have a virtual race, not an in-person race. We offered refunds to anyone who didn’t want to do it virtually and we only lost 11 percent. Then we started advertising the virtual race and runners from around the country, even outside the country, signed up. We had about 30 or 40 states represented. We ended up with 1250 runners.
People had a week to run it in and they could run it anywhere they wanted to. And to show their friends that they had done it, they took photos along the way and posted them on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and so forth. The most distant participant ran the race at the Gardens of Versailles. The 2020 Coke 10K turned out to be a social media bonanza, exposing many non-runners to our race.
Next year, 2021, is the 40th Anniversary of the Coke 10K. While we definitely hope it will be in person, we do still plan to offer a virtual component.
Mona Lisa: Yes, because people who could never come to Corinth did it this year and enjoyed it and loved all the bling they received for running the race. We certainly want to continue to include them.”
-- Kenneth and Mona Lisa, Corinth Coke 10K (October 2020).