VIRTUAL running has never really been Steve Moneghetti's style. He thrives on race adrenaline.
These are exceptional times and Moneghetti is excited about the prospect for a new virtual race festival. He says this is a timely chance to spur on the rise in people out running for exercise in isolation and offer added motivation to keep moving outside as the weather grows colder.
The Ballarat Olympian is the first prominent Australian runner to put his name to this month's Great Ocean Road Running Festival - virtual edition.
While the festival has been rescheduled for late August, running the Great Ocean Road in mid-May has long been a popular destination for Ballarat runners and tourists alike.
There will not be the breathtaking coastal views - it is a choose your own course in your neighbourhood run - but Moneghetti said this was about more than an event.
We're all out there exercising. It's great to have a goal, keep you head in the right space to stay motivated.Steve Moneghetti
"We're all out there and exercising. It's great to have a goal, keep you head in the right space to stay motivated and, when you see each other out there, some empathy for each other in working towards the same goal or the same event," Moneghetti said. "This takes what we're already doing to another level."
The concept is not new in this pandemic. Run for the Kids had a similar virtual festival last month.
Ballarat's Evolution Runners staged their own race weekend in isolation for what would have been The Canberra Times Marathon Festival earlier this month.
Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club add its weekly racing to the global virtual platform Zwift and those racing in A-grade events have found themselves taking on Tour De France calibre riders and Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge on courses in real time.
Moneghetti said the Great Ocean Road run was close to his heart - he had been involved in the event since it launched in 2005, headlined by the marathon from Lorne to Apollo Bay.
While there would not be the stunning views like the cyclists could virtually enjoy in their racing, Moneghetti said there would be a sense of solidarity in knowing you were running the same time as potentially thousands of others for the same purpose - even if you had never run Great Ocean Road before.
"Unfortunately you're not going to be on the Great Ocean Road with 10,000 other people but all those people are in isolation and sharing the same experience," Moneghetti said.
"My whole career has been based on racing - and I love racing. To race you need to train and I've always liked to have something to train for whether it's a city marathon or a major championship. There is a goal at the end to motivate you."
Moneghetti said it had been particularly pleasing to see so many more people out running and walking about Ballarat, including on the track named in his honour at Lake Wendouree.
Health experts made clear the mental well-being and physical importance of exercising during isolation, this includes lowering the risk for chronic diseases that cause major complications for people who contract COVID-19.
Moneghetti said it was important to just get outside and keep moving during such a time that had a "holding pattern" on our sport and our lives. If it helped, this festival also has the practical reward of a finishers' medal.