The pandemic has shown that high-quality parks and paths and a healthy local environment are needed now more than ever.

Mystic River logoIn early October, nearly 100 Mystic River Watershed Association supporters joined the virtual Herring Run and Paddle (#VirtualHRP) -- a weeklong, physically distant version of the organization’s annual event -- to show their support for continued environmental improvements in the watershed. 

Arlington resident David Barlow was the overall race winner. The Iron Herring male champ: “We are blessed to have such resources at our doorstep; to walk, run, or bike with water views; to be on the water; to fish, or swim the Upper Lake. I liked the Horn Pond loop the best, especially the northwest corner.

"I'm a trail runner, so happy to meander through woodlands, with something like bare ground underfoot.  I can't honestly say that every minute of the nine-mile race was a pleasure. And I hate running fast. But I love MyRWA! My wife, Ying, went with me to each of the 5K race courses and had a pleasant walk while I sweated and swore. That's four dates in one week!”

Departing from the traditional one-route race, the watershed group offered four 5K route options highlighting Somerville/Medford, Everett/Malden, Charlestown and Horn Pond (Woburn).

The virtual race included a nine-mile paddle race course along the Mystic River from the Mystic Lakes to Blessing of the Bay in Somerville. Participants who completed all four running routes were eligible for the Olympic Herring Award, while those who also added the paddle route were eligible for the Iron Herring Award. Check out the results and photos here.

In total, participants and sponsors raised $28,000 for the Mystic. Fifteen participants completed all four 5K courses (Olympic Herring), and nine people completed each 5K course plus the paddle race (Iron Herring).

Benai Kornell, No. 1 female in the Iron Herring, said: "I set out to complete all of the virtual Herring Run & Paddle races as a test of my speed and fitness to see if I could race my hardest five times over the course of a week. My favorite course was Horn Pond because of the combination of trail and road running. Also, that's a location I had not previously visited, so the race took me someplace new.”

Though the first virtual race, this event marked the 24th consecutive year of running and paddling for a better Mystic. This corresponds with 24 years of improvements in the watershed.

See scenes from event here >>

This news announcement was published Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.