San Francisco resident spells 'VOTE 2020' on marathon run

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Thursday, October 22, 2020
SF resident spells out 'VOTE 2020' on marathon run
A San Francisco runner found a way to make her virtual Chicago marathon more meaningful. Emily Hou's "VOTE 2020" message even caught the attention of the city's marathon's organizer to promote the same route ahead of election 2020.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Most runners will tell you half the fun is getting lost on a long run not thinking about anything, but when Emily Hou recently ran a virtual marathon around San Francisco, she was carefully calculating every turn in order to motivate others to vote.

Hou took up racing a few years ago. Her first marathon was in San Francisco in 2018.

"I think it kind of got me addicted to running races in general," said Hou.

Most recently, she planned to run the Chicago marathon.

"Obviously racing is not something you can do with social distancing in place," said Hou.

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Given the option of completing the race virtually, Hou had an idea.

"I wanted to do something cool with the route that I ran," said Hou.

She estimates she spent 3 hours mapping her course to spell out "VOTE 2020" and made sure that her route hit 26.2 miles.

"I thought that 'vote' is a very good message that applies to everyone, no matter what your political preference," said Hou.

Hou finished in 4 hours 10 minutes and 39 seconds, sharing, "The most exciting thing was hitting save on my Garmin watch and seeing that image pop up on Strava. That was really cool to see that I had done the turns correctly and it actually turned out okay."

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Hou shared her photo with neighbors on Nextdoor.

"A lot of people responded and said 'Yes, you ran by my house right at this corner.' Some people said, 'Man, I wish you I knew you were doing this, I would have come out and given you water,'" said Hou.

A write up in the Chicago Sun Times caught San Francisco Marathon Director Melissa Faukner's attention.

"The fact that she decided to spell out and then run 'Vote 2020' this year was just so impactful and inspiring," said Faukner.

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Faukner asked Hou if she could use her exact route as a suggested route for SF Marathon's sister series Virtual 365. Runners have until election day to complete the Run to VOTE to Save the USPS. 10% of every registration will be used to purchase USPS stamps.

Hundreds of people have already signed up, hopefully inspiring many more to run to get their ballot in.

"Drive it home that the point is for people to go out and vote," said Hou.

In an emailed statement to ABC7 News, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service writes:

"The U.S. Postal Service has been running a marathon for 245 years to timely deliver mail and packages to all people and business in the United States and isn't slowing down now. In fact, we're just hitting our stride. Although the Postal Service cannot endorse any activities such as the one being done here, it does greatly appreciate the fact that the American public holds the Postal Service in such high regard."

Get the latest stories and videos about the 2020 election here.