Thursday, May 8, 2014

Virtual Races

So I just participated in my first virtual race, Nerd Herd Running's "Revenge of the 5th" 5k.  If you're new to the running community, you maybe wondering what the heck is a virtual race?  I know that was my reaction when I first heard of this concept.

It can vary depending on which virtual race you choose.  But in short, it is an option for a certain distance that you run on your own on a specific day or time period. For example. The one I just did was a 5k that you had to run between May 5th and May 10th. You can run wherever your want, however you want.  Some virtual races will send you a bib in advance and some will also send you a medal afterward. Some will allow you to submit your times and post the times so you can see how you place compared to everyone else who raced. Some are free, and some cost money. The one I did had a charge that goes to benefit the chosen charity, Stupid Cancer.

The Nerd Herd motto is "Ears Up" due to their Disney love and of course, there is a signature move to go with it, seen in my photo above :)

Umm... So what is the point if you're "racing" on your own? Well, it is convenient.  You can do it on your own time, in your own space, even on a treadmill if you want. And it increases your options for races if you live in an area without a lot of real-time races.  You can still compete and compare your time to others who participate as long as you choose a virtual race which publishes the submitted times. I haven't experienced other virtual racing groups but this one (and I'm sure some others) also have an online community where you can "meet" and support each other. This one has shared interests (Disney and nerdom) which helps. And you can help raise money for a good cause. The Nerd Herd virtual race series for this year includes this Star Wars 5k, a Lord of the Rings 10k, and a Hunger Games half marathon.  The proceeds from all three raise money for Stupid Cancer. If you do all three, you get an extra medal for a total of 4.

As with anything else, do your research carefully! I have heard from someone who paid money for a virtual race which ended up being a scam. In addition to scams, you will want to read details to make sure that the virtual race you pick meets your needs, i.e is there a medal, is the cost reasonable to you, where do the proceeds go, are the results published, is there an online community, etc.  In my opinion, it doesn't meet the excitement of a real race but it's a great alternative.  Or it can even be combined with a non-virtual race if you want to get 2 medals for one!

Anyone else have experiences with virtual races, positive or negative?