Existing Within a Virtual Reality

One of my running resolutions for 2016 is to run a virtual race. What is a virtual race? Well, I’m glad you asked. In its simplest form, a race of the virtual variety enables you to run where you are. No need to travel. No need for complicated race day logistics. No need to spend a ton of money. Just pick your date, pick your time, and run. Oh, and shortly thereafter your shiny, new race bling magically arrives in the mail. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple.

There are a plethora of different virtual races out there. In fact, RunDisney announced last week that they are jumping into the virtual game with their Virtual Running Shorts Series that will be held throughout the summer. This is your chance to get a little piece of the Disney Magic without the larger price tag that is usually attached. There are three different races, and a challenge race if you want to run all three, each with its own signature medal. These races are 5Ks and if you complete the challenge, four bright and shiny medals will be headed your way, courtesy of the mouse himself.

In choosing the virtual race to meet my running resolution this year, I have sifted through site after site containing all of the benefits of running that particular race. Through research, I have decided that my race will have to meet three distinct parameters in order to be the one.

#1: It supports a charity 

With a myriad of races out there some are for profit, others simply want to cover the cost of their bling, and a great deal of them exist to give back. I love a race that gives all or a portion of your race fee to a nonprofit organization. Races for Awareness offers an array of virtual races, all dedicated to a specific charity, with 80% of entry fees going to that charity. I like this site because they offer so many different races for lots of nonprofit organizations and the medals are pretty fabulous! Will Run for Bling is another great resource for virtual races that give back.

#2: It has a set distance

Some virtual races let you pick your distance and go as far as you want, as long as you pay the entry fee.  Others are distance specific ranging from a 5K all the way to those 100-mile plus endurance races. I’m shooting for a 10K for my first virtual race because that distance can be challenging, but makes for a great run whether it’s first thing in the morning or later in the day. I also want a race that requires you to log your distance and time.

How do you track your distance if you don’t have a set course? I run with a Garmin Forerunner 10 run watch. It is just fancy enough so that I know how far I’ve gone, how fast I’m running, how many glorious calories I’ve burned, and my total run time. You can also use Map My Run or RunKeeper, both great running apps for tracking. 

#3: It doesn’t have a set date 

Just like an actual race, some virtual runs require that you run on a specified date. They often bring people together from all over the world to support a cause on a specific date or require that you run on a certain day in order to award prizes and ship medals in a timely fashion. I am looking for a race that has no timeline. I want to run when I want to run. This is just one more reason that virtual races are so easy to do. 

So, what race am I going to run? I’m still not sure, but I’m learning a ton through research, as I look for the perfect race for my running resolution. Have you run any virtual races? If so, what do you recommend and why? 

2016 Miles to Go: 881

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