Eight Sisters women ages 51 to 75 and Mabel, a black labrador, didn’t let a global pandemic stop them from a long-prepared-for running event.

On May 3, with the support of Sisters Trails Alliance, they participated in a “Social Distancing Sisters 10K And A Half” race through open trails in the forest.

The group had originally been training for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon, Half Marathon, & 10 K Run that was to be happening May 3, but the event was canceled due to COVID-19.

Virginia Silvey, an experienced marathoner, told The Nugget, “All was as successful as we anticipated. We are all winners! I am very proud to have had an opportunity to train and complete this special half marathon with these ladies!”

Silvey noted, “Families and grandchildren came out to cheer; all observing social distancing. It was so heartwarming to see so much support for just eight runners.”

The group cleaned up the trails after the run from beginning to end, including all garbage left from others.

Participant Heidi Franz-Tremblay said that it was a really good experience for her.

She said, “We felt super supported by Catherine Hayden from Sisters Trails Alliance and also by our volunteer team of friends and family. It gave me a great baseline for our race in October. We plan on continuing our training together.”

Franz-Tremblay’s husband was at the halfway mark with fuel and water for the runners.

Mother/daughter team Sarah and Marna Griffin brought Mabel along, a black labrador owned by Sarah.

Sarah said, “For this race, my mom and I had signed up to do the 10K (6.21 miles) segment of the race and we were going to walk. The other ladies had signed up to do the half marathon (13.11 miles) and they were going to either run it or walk/run. My mom ultimately decided to run/walk the half marathon.”

Neither mom nor daughter have ever done a half marathon.

Sarah went on to say that when she was in her 20s, she participated in several sprint triathlons, a 0.5-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run.

She added, “We’ve had family in the Sisters area for a long time. My grandparents lived here, and my parents have lived in Sisters off and on for years. I retired from my job in law enforcement in Reno in 2018 and knew I wanted to live here, so I relocated to Sisters last year.”

Silvey was the motivating force behind the training.

“Virginia was very supportive and as a group we did several training sessions,” Sarah said. “Everyone runs or walks at different speeds so maintaining social distances was not difficult. We tried to get together for training at least once a week for the last 4 months. My mom and I did several walks near our homes, and I take Mabel out almost every day on walks near our home.”

The participants for the race were: Pam Christ, 61; Sarah Griffin, 51, with Mabel her dog; Marna Griffin, 75; Joan Blancett, 63; Heidi Franz-Tremblay, 54; Sara Euser, 65; Anna Blumenkron, 62; and Virginia Silvey, 71.

The non-runners who helped out with their own creative talents were Susan Wilson who crafted the winning medals for everyone. Patti Piper was their finish line official, along with Miki McFadden, and Debbie Barns took the finish-line photos.

Susan Wilson and Peg Luken rode their bikes checking on the runners and providing moral support throughout the race.

Silvey added, “The Avenue of the Giants Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K will be happening in October and we are continuing the training.”