When the first two races of the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile and the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k were canceled, key members of the Akron running community rallied together to ensure those focusing on their fitness goals had an outlet to continue their race training — and the Akron Running Project was born.

The Akron Running Project is a highly-organized collaboration of Akron businesses, running crews and organizations who share a passion for the sport and for helping runners — at any stage of their fitness journey — stay motivated and connected to their community.

Partners, including the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation, Portage Lakes Running Club, Orangetheory Fitness of Akron and Copley, Second Sole Running Store, Run Well Be Well, and Yoga Bliss Akron, are committed to offering coaching, nutrition, training tips and unique experiences to assist runners, walkers, continue on their path to healthy lives.

"When I heard that spring and summer races were canceling, I started brainstorming ways to keep our Akron community motivated, while giving back to our runners," Second Sole owner Michael Dilisio said. "The very next morning, I connected with Nicole (Gareri-David) from PLX Running Club and Verrelle (Wyatt), race director of the Akron Marathon on ways we could work together to support small business, keep our community (especially new runners) active and rally our sweat scene."

Runners can look forward to daily virtual coaching tips, nutrition information and cross training classes by Orangetheory Fitness, Yoga Bliss and Run Well Be Well; Weekly challenges and incentives; and monthly discounts and special offers by the small businesses involved.

"This is such a strange time for all of us and even though runners are such a resilient group, the canceling of summer races hit us all pretty hard," said Gareri-David, founder of Portage Lakes Running Club. "Instead of throwing in the towel on running because of the pandemic, we are pulling our resources for newbies who have never run a race in their lives, all the way up to the local elites who start at the front but still have some work to do in other areas.

"We are so excited to give Akron a full dose of how special this place is and how much the running community means to us."

To register, visit raceroster.com/events/2020/31949/the-akron-running-project and sign up for regular email updates. This will serve as the hub for the Project.

Participants also can join Akron Running Project’s Strava (a running app.) group and log their runs to be eligible for prizes. Follow @AkronMarathon, @PLXrunningclub, @SecondSoleAkrun @RunWellBeWell for the most immediate information.

"This community is always proving itself, time and time again, as one that stays together, even when apart and we are proud to connect with runners across every fitness level to welcome them to our Blue Line family," Wyatt said. "The Akron Running Project is for everyone. It’s for the family of five walking together for the first time, for the parent in need of some self-care for 30-minutes a day or the person just needing to feel connected. We’re proud to collaborate with our partners and to be here for you."

For more information on the Akron Running Project, visit akronmarathon.org/akron-running-project.