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Laurel Lake Preserve is one place to run your virtual race this year (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Typically, fall is prime race season. Countless 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons and even triathlons were set to take place with the changing leaves as a backdrop. Although most aren’t outright cancelled, they have moved to a virtual model, which allows you to choose where you want to compete. The Tanger Fit Virtual 5K, Run for the Ridley 5K, Shelter Island 10K and more have all made the switch towards a virtual race. Although this means that the feeling on race morning with all the runners at the starting line will be lost this year, there are plenty of picturesque places around the North Fork to compete in your virtual race — and support some great causes. These are some of our favorites.

For the runner who wants peaceful wooded bliss.

It’s quiet. It’s calm. It’s almost blissful, until you remember you’re running a race. If you want to stay away from the salt water, the trails of Laurel Lake Preserve are perfect for you. It’s all in the shade of the woods, so you can almost entirely avoid the sun — and the sounds of the forest animals will cheer you on to the finish.

5501 NY-25, Laurel

For the runner who likes flat terrain.

With wide, wooded trails and pebbly beaches, the paths at Indian Island County Park are perfect for the runner who wants constant changing surroundings. Many of the trails are flat, so you don’t have to look out for a wandering tree root trying to trip up your 5K time.

Cross River Dr., Riverhead

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For the runner who wants beach, forest, wetlands — a little bit of everything.

If you like to switch between running on sand and wooded trails, Sound View Dunes Park has both. The beach trail, although only one-third of a mile, is an easy run along the primary dune. Then, switch to the forest trail, which is about a mile long and will take you into the forest and freshwater wetland. A few rounds of that and your race will be over.

4201-5801 Soundview Ave, Southold

For the runner who needs changing scenery.

Start your run up on the trails of Wildwood State Park. You can weave between paved roads around the campsites and wooded trails. When you feel the fatigue set in, head down to the beach to reset your mind and finish out the race strong. 

790 Hulse Landing Rd., Wading River

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For the runner who wants beach views.

There’s nothing quite like a solid beach run. And if that is what you need to run an amazing race, head over to Orient Beach State Park. Their eight and a half miles of water frontage covers Gardiners Bay and Orient Harbor. The gentle crashes of the waves on the shore will keep the cadence of your stride.

40000 Main Rd., Orient

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For the runner missing the Shelter Island 10K.

If you live on Shelter Island, or perhaps want to hop the ferry for your race, head over to Mashomack Preserve. It’s a serene place to run, with different length trails and no cars in sight. You can even run the four miles from the North Ferry to the preserve to get started. 

79 S Ferry Rd, Shelter Island

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