RUNNERS of all ages and abilities are being urged to get their running shoes on to help a charity taking the strain of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Age UK Rotherham is busier than ever supporting elderly people stuck at home - but its funding has dried up as major events had to be scrapped when social distancing rules kicked in.
The biggest casualty was the annual Rotherham 10k, which was cancelled last month.
But marathon man Ray Matthews said there was still a chance for supporters to back the charity and bag themselves a medal in the process as he announced the launch of the Virtual Rotherham 10k this week.
The "race" is a totally separate event from the annual run setting out from Clifton Park but will use the original event website to help those taking part apply for a medal and a certificate while making a donation to Age UK Rotherham.
Ray said: "Charities are suffering a hell of a lot as all the major events they collect a lot from have just gone.
"We have a situation where Age UK Rotherham are in their biggest demand ever because of what we're going through at the moment and they are struggling, with a lot of people on furlough.
"They are much needed out in the field but finances have just dried up.
"We had already got the medals paid for and we thought how could we make use of them at the same time give the people of Rotherham a little bit of incentive to get off their backsides and do something that will benefit everyone.
"At the same time, Rotherham Council are looking to promote a healthy lifestyle, especially at this moment, so it ticked all the boxes."
The Maltby runner (78), added: "The idea of the Virtual 10k is it is for everyone from five to 105 and You can choose how you want to complete it, whether it's on one day or 1k a day for ten days.
"In order to get a medal, which is based on the Rotherham emblem, you need to make a donation of £10 and that goes straight to Age UK Rotherham.
"It's a separate event from the Roth 10k as it's just not practical to use the entries we had for that.
"Everyone completing 10k and applying for a medal will also be able to download a certificate.
"You need to complete 10k for a medal but can have a certificate whether it's for 3k or 8k or whatever.
"We've also been in touch with our twin town of St Quentin and are hoping they will take part and so it's going international."
Ray said running clubs including Rotherham Harriers, Kimberworth Striders, Maltby Running Club and Rawmarsh Runners were all supporting the virtual race but it was open to everyone, with children also encouraged to run or walk distances short or long to make up the 10k and own their own medal.
He added: "We would like people to complete it as soon after the original race date of May 17 as possible.
"All the money raised by Age UK stays in Rotherham, too, and doesn't go into a big pot."
Visit http://rotherham10k.com/virtual.php to find out more and claim your medal.