Thursday, May 7, 2015

Virtual races

Not a problem with a virtual race!
How do you feel about virtual races?

This thought popped into my head a few weeks ago when a link for US Road Running appeared in my Facebook feed. When I first saw it, I thought this was some really official race company, and so I checked out the company's website. There are a few live races listed, but mostly virtual races with some pretty fancy medals. Many of the medals commemorate holidays. Once you register for the race, you must complete the selected distance and post your results by a deadline. But you don't have to post a finish time to receive the medal. There are 2 options for registration-a medal and a bib or a medal, bib, and race shirt. The races can be done by an individual or a group. There is a discount for groups.


Before the explosion of virtual races, there were virtual runs, usually in memory of a lost loved one or runner. A few years ago, Beth at Shut Up and Run hosted a virtual run after her cousin Sherry was killed while out on a run. While mostly a symbolic gesture, she did put a bib on her blog that runners could download and wear while dedicating their miles to Sherry. There was also the ability to donate money to the family. After another runner, Meg Menzes, was struck by a drunk driver and killed, a group of friends asked runners to dedicate their miles to Meg. The response was huge. Runners posted their miles on the group's Facebook page, which remains very active to this day. No medals were awarded for these runs--the victory was symbolic.

Here's some questions that came to my mind when I thought about a virtual race. Why do a virtual race? Do you do it for the bling? What's the point of paying to run a distance/route you normally run? Do you run a virtual for a cause? Or do you sign up but not run it at all, just to get the bling?

There are no races that fit your schedule. Back in March when I had to DNS my Florida half, I hated to waste all that training and not run a race. I was ready to go, and I looked for a local half to meet my needs. I was lucky (pun intended) to find the Get Lucky half the very weekend of my Florida race. I probably wouldn't have run that race otherwise, but it worked out just great for me. However, what if I couldn't have found a race? A virtual race certainly would have fit the bill. I guess I could have gone out and just ran 13.1 miles on my own, but having some incentive, such as a medal waiting for me at the finish, would be more motivating and fun. I know I'd try a little harder than if it were "just" a run.


Running for bling? Virtual races are definitely on the honor system. Go read Happy Fit Mama's post about her Boston Marathon experience and about how awful she felt going home with a medal she didn't earn. After you complete a virtual race, most races ask that you submit your finish times. This is on the honor system. You're not competing with anyone, so you may as well tell the truth! With some virtual races, you get the medal before you've even run the race. So the onus is on the runner to get those miles done. To me, it's like wearing a race shirt before the race. I just can't do it! Some people might not be as motivated to head out the door on their own as they would be to run a live race. But I'm pretty sure none of my readers would ever take a medal for a race they didn't run.


Running for charity? I found a number of websites that host virtual races for charity. Will Run For Bling, Races For Awareness, and Get Fit For Bling are among some of the more popular websites that host a variety of virtual runs. Skirt Sports, the company that sells really cute running clothes, also hosts a virtual race series. So you can look cute and get your race on! Some live races offer a virtual option, such as the Florida Road Races. Having participated in one of their live events, the Florida Beach Halfathon, I can say that they are a great race organizer to work with. These are all just a few suggestions, but there are a lot more opportunities out there!

I'm sure they asked me because I am Bad Ass...
I'm going to get the opportunity to run my first virtual race the last weekend in May. Gone For A Run, a company that sells gifts for runners, is hosting a virtual race series. The first race was run in April, The Log Off, Shut Down, Go Run Virtual 10k. Several bloggers that I follow participated and posted actual race reports on their blogs. I liked that and enjoyed reading them! Those posts made the races seem "real". Through Gone For A Run, I'm going to run their May virtual race, the Bad Ass Runner Virtual 5 mile race. I'm already thinking about the race course and staking out all the neighborhood portapotties. My neighbors see me running a lot and they already think I'm odd...so do I want to run through my neighborhood with a race bib pinned to my shirt? Should I wear a costume?And I'm thinking about how I'm going to run it. My 5 mile PR was last November, at that Turkey Trot I ran. Obviously, the goal would be to beat that time. For this race, it's just me and my Garmin. Should I go for it? It won't matter to anyone but me, since the results won't be official. I will be first in my AG, I can say that!

Victorious at the Turkey Trot in November last year
And that's the thing. Virtual races are as fun as you make them. I'm sure this will be fun for me. I'll finally get to run, virtually with some of my blogger friends, like Sue from This Mama Runs For Cupcakes! But it's not the same as a live event. There's nothing like lining up with a group, hearing the gun or airhorn sound, and crossing the starting line. Crossing the finish line is a thrill too, and who will put my medal over my head?

But it's a guarantee that I'll have really good beer at the finish line for this one! I'm married to a homebrewer, after all...

Anyone else running this one? Have you ever run a virtual race? Can you think of any other reasons to run one? Want to sign up to run this one with me? The dates are May 29-31. Go to Gone For A Run to learn more.

disclaimer: This race entry is being provided to me by Gone For A Run in exchange for this blog post and a race report after the race. The thoughts and opinions on this blog post are all mine! Of course!

I'm linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! Be sure to check out what all the other bloggers are up to today.






62 comments :

  1. I've never ran a virtual race but would certainly give it a go.
    I couldn't travel to a half-marathon I'd registered for last year. I ran it myself anyway that morning at home. Did a OK too!! But it still wasn't the same though - I missed the crowds and pre-race excitement.
    Off now to do a little research on virtual races - they could be fun!

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    1. I'll post on this little experiment after I run mine! Let me know what you find out.

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  2. I have not run a virtual race. I think if it were set up as a Strava challenge where you had to upload a Garmin file and could see placing I might be more motivated to do it. Otherwise it feels just like a workout. As for medals - I love them for the first few minutes but then have no clue what to do with them. I display a few in my workout room but otherwise I have a very heavy shoebox with them :)

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    1. I'm with you on all points. But since there's a couple of us bloggers out there doing this one, it makes it kind of fun!

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  3. I ran Shut Up's run for Sherry and the one for Meg now that I think of it. I've done a couple others for charity too.

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    1. I did those runs too....but I've never done one that was just a run, with a medal.

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  4. Yes, I have run virtual. Living in a somewhat small town, there aren't always easily accessible options for races. I even blogged about it last year :-)
    ( http://kimrunsonthefly.blogspot.com/2014/02/ever-gone-virtual.html ) :-)

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    1. I was thinking that virtual races would be good for people who don't have access to a lot of races.

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  5. I did a handful of virtual races last year. The one I liked best was a Virtual Race for the Animal Half Marathon- I really pushed myself and ended up first female overall (very small group) BUT I earned it and it was a lot of fun!

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    1. Fun! So they did publish results and rankings? That's pretty cool!

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  6. "It won't matter to anyone but me.." That's all that does matter, right?

    I've run only three virtual races, for special causes organized by friends and once in memory of Meg Menzes (I had to do that last on the treadmill but I did it anyway)
    .
    In 2013, I formed a real team to run at Bryant University here in Rhode Island, in memory of a former student who died in one of the planes on 9/11 (His father is a childhood friend of my brother, so this is close to my heart). Several running friends I met on the internet came to run with me, but many lived too far away to travel and ran it at home in memory of Shawn. We all felt very connected, and even though this was in part a virtual run, it meant a lot to me that those folks ran "with" us. There was no money involved for virtual runners.

    I care nothing for bling. I don't race, but running in support of and with others helps keep me connected to the running community on a small level.
    I hope yours is fun. Virtually hand-in-hand with other bloggers, I think it will be. <3

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    1. I ran a small non-timed, bling-free race in my town for Philippine Hurricane relief a few years ago. It was really meaningful!

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  7. I've run several virtual races, all to benefit charities: Sandy Hook, CCFA, Pug Rescue (awesome medal). They are a great inexpensive option for people who have a tough time getting races to fit into their lives!

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  8. I appreciate that you wrote about this. You are right - virtual races are as fun as you make them. I still kind of don't get it. I don't need a medal for a route I always run. BUT I can see how raising money for a good cause would be worth it.

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    1. I feel the same way. I'm not in it for the bling.

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  9. I've only run one virtual race, and it was for the Wounded Warrior project. Paying to run in my own hood just seems a bit silly, although I do enjoy supporting charities when I can.

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  10. I think they are beneficial for charities to reach more people and people outside of their area, which is great. I've not participated in a virtual run, but some of the gals in my running club have done them before; I'm not a huge fan. Can't wait to hear what you think about this one! Thanks, Wendy! Have a great weekend!

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    1. I'm with you Tara, but if they're for a charity, it's definitely a good thing.

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  11. I have never ran a virtual race, it sounds interesting. I like the idea of raising money for charities by running them!

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  12. I have done 4 virtual races. It's a great way to support a cause and get bling!

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  13. I have ran a couple virtual races with Jost Running, they were a great way to keep up with my training on the off season.

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    1. Sometimes we need that extra push to keep us on track!

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  14. I've run a couple of virtual races. One was a MRTT virtual, which was nice at the time because it was something to look forward to and the other was the Beat the Blerch virtual and I did it because I couldn't run the real race on the West coast and I really liked the Oatmeal comic (it came with nice swag). Virtuals are fun but I still prefer a real race. :)

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    1. I thought about running that Beat the Blerch race, just because I love the Oatmeal! We're reading his book for the June book club.

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  15. I've never done a virtual race, but I think for a good cause it is worth it!

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  16. Of all the millions of races I've done over the years, I have yet to run a virtual one! Maybe it's time.

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  17. I do like virtual races. Especially the ones for charity, they add a little excitement to the hoo hum training schedule. I have done 2 of the Skirt Sports virtual runs and they provide great swag on top of the charity aspect. It is all fun- and I saw this one the other day- I need to take a look- I would like a t-shirt saying I am a bad ass! :)

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  18. I did one virtual race. They're a fun way to raise money for a cause while also encouraging people to get out there and be active. I agree with you, though - there's nothing better than the real thing!

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  19. I can hardly make it to a race here and the medals are so not cool. LOL
    I love the possibility of running a virtual race. In Europe there aren't that many cool events like the US. At least not in Little Belgium. So the vitual races give me the feeling I have participated in something more.

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    1. And I think that's a great reason to run them!

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  20. Alright, game on my friend. I'll be running this one. We need to pick a day and a distance ;)

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    1. Well, the race is 5 miles, so that's set, But what day do you want to do? Sat or Sunday? And time?

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  21. One year I signed up for a bazillion virtual races. So many that I lost count. It was when they first became popular and I even hosted a few of my own :)

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    1. It's out of control, isn't it? Fueled by bling, I think...

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  22. I've never run a virtual race but one of my friends and I are planning to race each other virtually. He used to be my gym buddy and he moved so now we have to get creative. Not the same, but still fun!

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  23. I've never run a virtual race. Not sure why not, but maybe someday soon. And if you need someone to come put your medal around your neck...I will!!❤️

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  24. Hm...never thought about them before....but I've had to move so many times, I have girlfriends all over the U.S.... it would be a fun way for us to try to "run together"....food for thought.

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    1. One of the bloggers I've befriended over the years and I are planning on running it together! Virtually of course...

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  25. I love running virtual races. One reason is that they fit my schedule. While I love running real races it is at least a half day event even if it's just a 5K. Virtual races are fun and you can do them whenever your schedule fits!

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  26. Definitely a great discussion about the virtual race thing. I find them to be motivating when I otherwise might not get up and get out the door for a run. Sometimes a group of us will run one together which can be especially motivating.

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    1. That's what appeals to me about this one...there's a set time frame for it, and a bunch of bloggers are participating!

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  27. I have a run a few virtual races and for different reasons. I always make sure its a reputable company and I prefer if it benefits charity. I think it's a great idea!

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  28. I can see how virtual races would be appeal to some, but they don't do anything for me. I enjoy just running and don't really need more medals. Plus, I'm not sure I'd train as hard or push myself as hard for a virtual race!

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    1. I feel the same as you do, I wouldn't do them just for the medals, but as a back up plan or for chasing a goal, it's not a bad thing.

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  29. I will also be running the Bad Ass Runner as my first virtual race. I've never run a virtual race before, but I'm excited to give it a try!

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    1. I think it's fun that so many of us are doing this!

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  30. I've not run a virtual race yet, but one year I ran a 26.2-mile training run, and my friends named it the Easter Bunny Hop Marathon (it was the day before Easter) and made me an "official race certificate." It was awesome!

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  31. I really feel the energy at a race and it makes me push faster and harder. but I do love the idea of a virtual race :) I guess it's as fun as you make them :)

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    1. This should be fun because so many bloggers are running it!

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