From September 26 through November 14, the Chesapeake Conservancy will host its first virtual race: Champions for the Chesapeake. Launched on National Public Lands Day (September 26), funds from the race will support the nonprofit’s advocacy efforts to establish the “Chesapeake National Recreation Area,” which would create National Park Service (NPS) unit status for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay, seen here by satellite, may become a new national park unit. Photo by Landsat/NASA

“Chesapeake Conservancy and our partner, Virtual Running Club, have organized this virtual race to be just like a traditional one, complete with a shirt, medal, bib, community, and fun. You can run, walk, hike, or paddle your race wherever you want, even on a treadmill,” said Chesapeake Conservancy’s vice president of development, Matthew Provost. 

“Once established as an official unit of the National Park System, a Chesapeake National Recreation Area would elevate the Chesapeake Bay and bring additional national and international recognition,” said Chesapeake Conservancy president and CEO Joel Dunn. “It would bring more expertise and resources from the National Park Service, increase public access, help support jobs, and contribute to the local economy. This park would not be one continuous locale, but rather a collection of areas that celebrate the many stories of the Chesapeake from those of American Indians, to Black history, to watermen, just to name a few.”

Examples of national recreation areas include Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Gateways National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey, and Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. National Recreation Areas provide access to significant historic resources and important natural areas to offer outdoor recreation opportunities. 

This is a virtual race so you can log your miles wherever you want! Courtesy of the Chesapeake Conservancy

National recreation areas often explicitly permit boating, fishing, and hunting. There are currently 18 national recreation areas in the National Park System several of which are among the most visited park units across the nation.

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is one of the most biologically rich and productive water bodies in the world. It has been formally recognized by NPS as nationally significant and has been called a national treasure by both Republican and Democratic U.S. presidents. It is also the focus of one of the largest environmental restoration efforts in the world. Yet unlike other major landscapes in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay does not have a National Park System unit dedicated to the Chesapeake Bay itself (learn more at

Run, walk, hike, or paddle to support the efforts to make the Chesapeake Bay a national park unit. Photo by Yazan Hasan/Chesapeake Conservancy

Champions For the Chesapeake Virtual Race

What: Run, walk, hike, or paddle to support establishment of the Chesapeake National Recreation Area

Distance options: 5k, 10k or half-marathon

Where: Wherever you want

When: Whenever you want during race window (September 26 through November 14) 

Registration: or follow the link from