The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
The Tradition Continues: 7th Annual Beat the Bells Run Goes Virtual

The 7th annual Beat the Bells Run took place once again on May 1—only this year it was completed virtually by participants from around the world. More than 50 students, alumni, and current and former faculty members representing a wide variety of countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia took part in the fun.

In a typical year, “beating the bells” consists of leaving from TASIS at 6:15 AM, cruising down the hill to Lake Lugano, and battling back to campus before the Sant’Abbondio bells chime at 7:00 AM. The grueling run is just under seven kilometers with an elevation change of 340 meters.

“Although we couldn’t run the course together this year, we still encouraged those who are local to complete the course on their own,” said TASIS University and College Counseling Director Greg Birk, who began developing the Beat the Bells tradition when he started at TASIS back in 2010. “And we asked those who were unable to be in Lugano to simply be active for at least 30–45 minutes on May 1. We may be spread out across the world, but there is no reason why our community couldn’t come together virtually to keep the spirit of the Beat the Bells Run alive.”

The extended TASIS community was asked to complete any physical activity in the spirit of Beat the Bells and to share the activities on social media using the hashtag TASISBeatthebells. A gallery of the photos and video clips submitted on May 1—covering a range of activities that included running, walking, biking, yoga, boxing, hiking, and surfing—can be found on the TASIS SmugMug page. Participants were also invited to join a post-activity discussion on Zoom.

“The 2020 Virtual Beat the Bells was a great success,” said Mr. Birk, who also coaches cross country and track at TASIS and has finished more than 60 marathons and two ultramarathons over the past 43 years. “It was an incredibly beautiful sunrise in Lugano. At 6:00 AM, just before I headed out to beat the 7:00 bells, the Bell Tower was poking through a low hanging cloud. It was a sign to me that it was going to be a special Beat the Bells day—and it was.”

“It was so exciting all day long getting messages, pictures, and videos from alums, students, faculty, former faculty, and friends from around the world,” continued Mr. Birk. “I love that so many could join in the Beat the Bells experience by taking it virtual. While I missed not having the community experience of everyone taking on the challenge together, adding in the virtual option is a new tradition I hope to continue on May 1 in future years.”

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