Runners looking for love this Valentine’s Day may want to consider signing up for the Stoplight Party 5K and 10K races at Eisenhower Park on Saturday, Feb. 20, to find a potential partner. The themed races are new for elitefeats, an Islandia-based organization that has hosted nearly 50 races since August 2020.
Event coordinator Joe Meyer said the concept for the race has been in the works for well over a year. Since elitefeats’ Cupid’s Chase 5K was cancelled in December 2020, the team was eager to organize a series of Stoplight races.
“There’s not many gatherings right now,” Meyer said, “so we thought it’d be great to create a safe winter race together.”
Registered participants will receive a bib in the mail with their information and relationship status – either “single,” “taken” or “undecided” — to wear as they run through Eisenhower Park. Registrants will also receive a Stoplight Party-branded buff and finisher medal upon completion.
Money raised through registration will be donated to the Never Stop Running Foundation, a nonprofit that supports athletic and charitable events as well as local emerging elites, including Long Island resident Allie Kieffer, who placed fifth in the New York City Marathon in 2017.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, elitefeats halted all its events between March and August 2020. “With the gathering size kept at 50, we had to get creative,” Meyer said. The organization was the first of its kind to receive race permits from state and local parks departments so it could continue to host events during the pandemic.
“We’ve set the standard on how to conduct the races,” Meyer added, “and we kind of wrote the protocols on what’s being accepted to host a safe race right now.”
For the Stoplight 5K and 10K, groups of approximately 40 to 50 participants will be staggered in waves between 8:30 and 10 a.m. Masked runners will line up six feet apart near the starting line and take off in pairs of two — appropriate for Valentine’s Day.
elitefeats is hosting similar Stoplight races in Queens and Manhattan on Feb. 13. Meyer said he hopes the races will become a winter staple for the organization post-pandemic.
With coronavirus cases still on the rise, Meyer said it is unlikely that runners will find their soulmates at the race. “The intention is to get the idea out there . . . but I wouldn’t anticipate too many people getting together this particular year, no,” he said with a laugh. “It’s just a fun thing to do.”
Christian Forie, co-founder of North Merrick Runners, said while he doesn’t know of any group members participating in the Stoplight races, the running community is “excited about the slow but safe roll out of in-person races,” he said, “and really looking forward to the return of our favorite large scale in-person events.”
Race registration is open until Wednesday, Feb. 17. Registration for the 5K is $30 and $40 for the 10K. Runners can also register to participate in the virtual Stoplight races for the same price. For more information, visit https://events.elitefeats.com/stoplight21#.