ROXBURY, NJ — Lasting concerns about COVID-19 have prompted The Lake Hopatcong Foundation to convert its annual October “Lake Loop” fundraiser into a virtual event that will span 11 days.

The new format “allows participants to choose their challenge, set their goals, and ride, run, walk or paddle however they choose: from the home gym to the local neighborhood and beyond,” said the Roxbury- based Foundation in a press release.

“Although we are disappointed that we cannot bring everyone together to Hopatcong State Park for the shared Lake Loop experience that we’ve all enjoyed over the last seven years, it’s more important than ever that we rally for the health of the Lake Hopatcong, as well as the health of the vibrant community that surrounds it,” Lake Hopatcong Foundation Executive Director Jessica Murphy said. “We are excited to launch this new version of our annual event, where we can still come together virtually to challenge ourselves, cheer each other on, and support our lake.”

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In the past, the Lake Loop included pre-marked bike routes, a 5K run and a paddle route on one day. This year that day was supposed to be Sunday, Oct 11 at Hopatcong State Park.

The new event will begin Oct 1 and end Oct. 11, “with registrants being able to log miles or times during that 11-day window on their own time and in the location of their choice, all while raising money to benefit the Lake Hopatcong Foundation,” explained the organization.

'Exciting' Possibilities

“What’s exciting is there are so many ways to participate in the Virtual Lake Loop this year,” Lake Loop co-chairwoman Sharon Gruber said. “Children, families, friends, and coworkers can register in one or multiple fitness challenges and have the ability to be virtual fundraisers. Both roles are equally important, since the bottom line is to show your support for Lake Hopatcong in the way that suits you best. Just as Lake Hopatcong is available for a wide variety of activities and levels, so is this event.”

Money raised will support the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s programs and initiatives that include advocating for the lake, fighting invasive species, improving safety, lake education and increasing recreation opportunities.

People interested in participating can register online, said the Foundation, adding that it will continue to add information about specific challenges, contests, sponsor promotions, virtual fitness classes and more in the coming weeks.

“Participants are encouraged to create or join fundraising teams, which will help boost camaraderie and competition, even from a social distance,” said the organization.

People who register will learn how to use fitness software, like Strava, to track their efforts. “They can then fundraise to their network of family and friends and participate in one or more of the activities during the 11-day challenge,” the Foundation said.

“Peer-to-peer fundraising is strongly encouraged as a way to harness the power of the lake community,” said Lauren Rossi of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. “This is our opportunity to get everyone to join in and invest in the lake we all love.”

Registration is a $20 donation to the Foundation. Those who pay $45 will get a Lake Loop 2020 t-shirt.

“As a virtual event that spans 11 days, we will stay connected with our participants through online encouragement and social media promotions,” said Lake Loop Co-chairwoman Jess Beckerman. “Being a sponsor means having the opportunity to reach hundreds of participants while also supporting New Jersey’s largest lake.”

The organization recently canceled another of its big fundraisers, the annual Lake Hopatcong Block Party, which was supposed to take place in May, then postponed to October.

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