Photo from Running USA
When I found out what the virtual race actually was, it intrigued me, though still seemed a bit strange. The concept of a virtual race is that you sign up for a race of whatever distance. You then run that race distance in your own local area, on your own time. You then report back your time to the organizer of the race, and usually there's a token that you'll receive to commemorate your race, such as a medal, shirt or bib.
What surprised me once I found out about virtual races is how immensely popular they're becoming. They're an awesome way for anyone to put on a race without having to worry about the immense logistics that goes into putting on an actual event. Just this past weekend, the Nike Women's Marathon hosted a virtual 10K that allowed participants to use their Nike+ device to track their run and then upload it and see their race results compared to other participants. Runners also received tech shirts for participating in the run, and in total, 29,524 miles were logged by runners, meaning about 4765 runners participated in this virtual run. That is one big race!
Another great aspect of a virtual race is that it's fantastic for fundraising because there's very little overhead that goes into putting on an event like this, leaving more money to donate to a charity. A lot of runners are surprised to find out that most of the time when they enter a regular road race that has a beneficiary, very little of their race entry actually goes to the charity being benefited by the race. By the time the expenses for bibs, timing costs, registration fees, shirts, goody bags, insurance, police/fire/medial coverage, port-a-potties and other race needs are spent, it leaves very little money going to the beneficiary. With a virtual race, these expenses are minimized.
Want to try a virtual run for yourself?
I have a great run for you to try if you'd like to try your first virtual run, or are looking for your next virtual run to participate in.
A fundraiser virtual race is currently being held to benefit the National Tourette Syndrome Association and it offers options for runners of all abilities. You can choose from a 5K, 10K or Half Marathon, and the best part is it only costs a minimum donation of $10 to participate. You can run any time between now and August 1 and all participants will receive a personalized finisher's certificate. Just click on the image below to register and help out a great cause! It's a great, and inexpensive way, to test out the world of virtual running.
Want to host your own virtual race?
Hosting a virtual run can be a really fun experience, but there are definitely a few things to keep in mind.
- Set a theme - Some of the best virtual races I've seen have a theme and these usually get the most interest. Themes usually carry from the name of the event into the medal or shirt, and sometimes participants will even run their race in costume, which makes for some great pictures after the event.
- Get a feel for the interest level - You don't want to start putting any type of money into an event before you know how many people are interested in it. It's like the band that plays for a crowd of one, you want to make sure you have an audience first. The best way to do this is through social media. Set up a Facebook fan page as a central point. You can set up the event date and times, send messages to participants, and have a place for participants to post pictures from their runs to share with others.
- Budget - To determine your entry fee, you'll need to have a good idea of how much the extras of the race are going to cost. Do you want to have personalized medals commemorating your event? T-shirts? These will cost money, and a lot of websites have minimum order quantities you'll need to meet, which is why having an idea of how many participants you'll have is important. You'll also need to factor in one of the biggest expenses of a virtual race...shipping. Shirts can be pricey to ship to people, and services like Paypal charge fees. These little fees can add up quick, so you have to just keep these in mind when planning your race.
- Plan Ahead - Put your plan down on paper. Think of your theme, determine what perks you want to have for runners, find out how much those expenses will cost, and then come up with your race fee. Having your plan down on paper will help you make adjustments as you do your research and not miss any small details.
|Team #runDisney Virtual 5K Medal|
Have you ever participated or would you ever participate in a virtual race?