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Vancouver marathoner inspires community through Strava art

Last Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 6:31 pm PDT

Vancouver-based runner and coach Tony Tomsich has found a way to keep running interesting during the coronavirus pandemic—Strava art. (Courtesy tonytomsich/Instagram)
Summary

Tony Tomsich has found a way to keep running interesting during the pandemic

Tomsich maps his Sunday routes into complex works of art and posts them on Strava, a social media for athletes

The Easter bunny, an orca, and stick-runners crossing the finish line are a few drawings he's completed

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver-based runner and coach Tony Tomsich has found a way to keep running interesting during the coronavirus pandemic—Strava art.

After fulfilling a lifelong dream of running in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials earlier this spring, the Alaska native has been mapping his Sunday routes into complex works of art. Tomsich runs the routes turn-by-turn with his GPS watch and posts them to the Strava—a social media platform for athletes.

“It’s always kind of been on my radar,” Tomsich says of the idea. After years of training to qualify for the marathon trials, he didn’t have a big plan going forward.

“As the pandemic hit, it became clear that running was going to look a bit different,” adds Tomsich. “We were going to have to do this by ourselves and so forth. I definitely looked at different ways to enjoy the sport.”

 

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Tomsich attempted an Easter bunny on Sunday, April 12th, and said his Strava feed exploded with comments after the run.

“I was just floored by the response that I got,” he says. “People absolutely loved it.”

Tomsich knew he had to keep going.


He has since drawn a boat sailing by a lighthouse, a thunderbird at UBC (the university’s mascot), and an orca. Tomsich wished people a happy Mother’s Day with a 25-kilometre-long vase of flowers.

 

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However, the most difficult drawing was a finish line, complete with two triumphant stick-runners, which he says was meant to inspire people even as official spring races were cancelled.

 

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“It is a way to engage and to get people excited and share what is possible when we can’t have races right now or can’t have big group gatherings.”

Tomsich uses Strava’s “Route Builder” function to map out the run. His wife, Kate, has been following him on her bike and posting Instagram video updates to build suspense around what the picture will be. Tomsich’s drawings vary from 24km to 35km, a typical Sunday run for an avid marathon.

“I asked my wife Kate to join,” he says. “It’s our time to spend together to disconnect and just be out.”

Tomsich coaches with Mile2Marathon, a running group founded by Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes to help beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners improve their race times while engaging in the social aspects of the running.

Mile2Marathon’s motto is #bettertogether and while many of its athletes are disappointed that they can’t run in groups, Tomsich hopes to inspire runners to keep going.

“I think the bigger message that I want to be able to portray to people with all this is that if you can identify what it is that you’re passionate about or what you love, there’s always ways to share that with other people.”