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"Art" Project Helps Bond Running Group

Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Fun

There were only two stages of grief for one runner when the Milwaukee Running Group shut down daily group workouts in March because of Wisconsin's Safer at Home order. For Olivia Spring first came “sadness” then came the second stage: “let’s do something about it.”

Olivia's idea to cheer herself up was plot a street run where the path would draw one out of her favorite things -- a cat. Six miles and an hour later she completed her first piece of what she now calls April Art.

This type of art uses the GPS mapping function of running watches and smart phone apps to show the path of a run or bike ride through the streets. Olivia posted her drawing to the running group’s Facebook Page and the next day one of her socially-distant running buddies, Richard Ehlert, responded with a drawing that spelled out “MKE Strong.”

The game was on. Soon the two decided others might enjoy this bit of social isolation fun and in early April Olivia announced on Facebook to the 2,000 members of the running group the "April Art Challenge" to see who could create the best drawings during the month. A photo gallery of the art can be viewed on the OMG group website

Perhaps because so many runners had extra time on their hands, the response was immediate. Within one week 26 runners had posted April Art to the Facebook page, and the range of talent and creativity was impressive: animals, slogans, abstractions, a wine bottle tipping into a glass, a whale. One entry of a giant bird was submitted from a former member who now lives in Germany.

Many runners rely on “running buddies” to keep them motivated and fill their need for social connection. It’s well known that the loss of daily connect can be very hard on some people. Now group's runners have found a way to continue thinking of each other each day by delighting and teasing each other using their daily solo runs as a form of communication.

Olivia and Richard's positive energy and creative thinking are just what's needed to keep us connected and motivated during social distancing. Small acts like these can make a positive impact on so many. Thank you!

MyFrontLineHero salutes the behind-the-scenes heroes who are finding ways to inspire and motivate others. Gauging by the number of 'Likes' and 'Loves' on the April Art pictures on the group's Facebook page we think the members of OMG agree. 

April 22, 2020

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