RUN UNITED 2020: Virtual Marathon

Across the country, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt in the running community. Group runs are no longer taking place. Races are being canceled. Runners plan their routes with social distancing in mind. 

For five years, United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Run United team of 300+ runners has participated in the Detroit Free Press Marathon and other local running events. Together, we’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support United Way’s work to build communities of stable households and thriving children. 

Though most in-person events have been canceled for the foreseeable future, our commitment to supporting our community through running and fundraising will continue through a Run United Virtual Marathon. 

The event

Let’s run a marathon together—virtually—to support children and families in our community. 

Starting with United Way’s 2020-21 Campaign Kickoff in September, runners and walkers will commit to logging at least 25 miles on their own. Then, we’ll all complete the final 1.2 miles together with a virtual “race” on Oct. 18—the date of what may or may not be the Detroit Free Press Marathon. 

Funds raised through the Run United Virtual Marathon will go to support efforts to close the digital divide for students in our region, providing them with laptops, internet access and other technology supports. Participants will also be encouraged to engage their friends and family to raise funds and virtually cheer them on as they log their miles and complete their marathon.


When:  Complete your 25 miles between Sept. 16 and the 1.2-mile virtual event on Oct. 18. 

Who:  Open to all ages and abilities. You are welcome to complete your miles in whatever way works best for you—walking or running!


  • Aug. 7: Registration opens and fundraising and activities begin on OneCause

  • Sept. 1: Register before this date to guarantee you receive your shirt and swag before Sept. 16

  • Sept. 4: Run United T-shirt and swag is mailed

  • Sept. 16: Virtual marathon begins 

  • Sept. 16-Oct 17: Complete 25 miles (or more) running or walking on your own. 

  • Oct. 18: 1.2 mile celebration run or walk  

How to participate:  

  1. Sign up for the Run United Virtual Marathon on OneCause and create your profile with a photo, fundraising/miles goals and why you’re running with us. You can also join or create a team with your coworkers, family or friends.

    1. Complete your miles however you’d like—all in one day or one mile at a time; running or walking; in your neighborhood or on a treadmill; solo or with your dog, kids or spouse. Whatever fits your schedule and preference! 

    2. Log your miles using OneCause, or using the Strava app. 

    3. Throughout the month, post your photos or screenshots from your runs along with your mileage total in OneCause. You can also share your posts on social media using the hashtag #RunUnited2020 

    4. Watch for challenges and contests for chances to win bragging rights or prizes, etc. 

    5. Fundraise with your friends and family 

    6. Finish your last 1.2 miles with your Run United teammates on Oct. 18 

    7. Celebrate!