The REEF Virtual 5K can be done anywhere and anytime between Sept. 28 through Oct. 4. Participants can run, walk, bike or hike. REEF/Contributed

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is inviting everyone around the world to participate in its inaugural Fish Out of Water virtual 5K. 

The event will be held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, and participants can choose their preferred exercise (run, walk, bike, hike, etc.) to complete 5K (3.1 miles). The race can be done at their own pace in one day or over the course of the week. The goal is to be inclusive to people who don’t like races or running and to support ocean conservation. 

“We’ve been looking for more ways to get our members involved around the world virtually because we still can’t do in-person programs right now,” said Madalyn “Moose” Mussey, REEF education and outreach program director. “We came across virtual 5Ks and decided to theme it to fish from our different regions.”

The special fish represent each of REEF’s 11 Volunteer Fish Survey Project regions. Participants can sign up to be part of their favorite fish’s team. 

“Each fish is from a different survey region, and each fish has a different race personality,” Mussey said. “So, people who don’t scuba or snorkel can still pick a fish they would like and relate to. I picked the powdered blue sturgeon because it’s my favorite.”

The non-profit wanted the event to be a fundraiser, and created an “Oceans for All Fund,” which will help to bring groups who normally cannot participate or repeat programs down to take part in a REEF program. Registration fees will help fund the new endeavor to bring ocean accessibility to all.

“The idea is to engage members while maintaining COVID protocols, but also to help groups come out to do programs when we can do non-virtual programs again. Especially with the year we’ve had, not everyone can afford to come to the Keys,” Mussey said.

Participants benefit themselves, others and the marine environment. Since registration began, the event has been hugely popular around the world. 

“We were hoping for 100, and we already have 300 people signed up,” Mussey said. “We didn’t think it’d be as popular as it has been, and it’s really cool to see people engaging. They’re signing up for the race and then emailing us to get more involved. That’s what we want.”Registration is $35 per person and includes a limited-edition Fish Out of Water 5K shirt, race bib, finishers’ medal, certificate of completion, social media kit, a Spotify playlist to run to and entry into a drawing to win a gift basket of REEF gear. Supplies are limited, and early registration is highly encouraged. More information is at www.REEF.org/5Krace.