Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Whole New World: Virtual Runs

Well, I have officially discovered another way to work towards our runDisney Half Marathon goal: virtual runs.  I first stumbled across a Facebook group page for Virtual Runs at the end of June when a friend from college posted a picture of some Disney Princess medals on my Facebook wall.  She knew how much I love Disney, how Eliot and I are planning to run next January, and she thought that I might be interested.  After a little bit of exploring, I found the Virtual Runs! Facebook group.  I was intrigued.

The first thing I asked myself was what the heck is a virtual run?  After scouring the page for information I discovered that a virtual run is a “race” that has been organized by an individual or an organization (otherwise known as race directors).  Runners register to do the run on their own time, whenever and wherever they wish.  It’s the perfect way to participate in something with others from all over the country and sometimes the world, from the comfort of your own treadmill, track, trail, road or sidewalk.  Runners are encouraged to report their times back to the group event page, but it’s not usually a requirement.

Signing up is pretty simple.  You find the race you want to participate in, go to the sign up page and register.  Some race directors use for their registrations, others use their own PayPal accounts.  After you sign up, you might receive an email or Facebook message from the race director.  (I have signed up for 3 races so far and have gotten personal correspondence in some form from all 3.)  One of the race directors even emailed me my race bibs!

Once the race directors get the medals, you’ll receive a medal in the mail, which you in turn “earn” when you go out to do your run.  Usually there are different distances that you can sign up for.  The most common ones are 5K, 10K and 13.1 miles, but there are some 1 mile runs for kids, as well as a few 26.2 full marathons.  The race directors encourage you to set your own goals.  A lot of people will try to run 26.2 miles in a week if they can’t do the whole marathon in one day.  Most people do the entire 5K or 10K in one outing, but they don’t necessarily run it.  Runners are encouraged to run, jog, walk, skip, bike or swim their chosen distance.  It really is an honor system that you’re doing the actual miles for the race.  I mean, who wants to get a medal without actually earning it?

The best part is that all of the money that isn’t going to the cost of the medal and shipping is going to a great charity.  Each race director chooses a charity that is important to them to give the proceeds to.  A lot of the race directors are training for a runDisney event as well and they’re running for a charity.  Putting on these races helps them to achieve their fundraising goals for their runDisney event.  So not only do you earn a cool medal, but you help other people (and animals) in the process.

The Facebook group is very supportive of each other and everyone’s events.  The races aren’t really considered a “race” either.  It’s really a supportive group that encourages everyone to try their best without putting the focus on who ran the “race” the fastest.  (That’s why the group is called Virtual Runs instead of virtual races.)  I think that this supportive group of people will really help me stay motivated on my not so good training days.

And the medals that some of the race directors have designed are incredible!  I feel like my wallet is not going to be a big fan of virtual races.  There are a ton of Disney fans on the page.  I’ve seen medals for so many characters: Princesses, Princes, Villians, etc.  (There have also been designs for my other loves: Harry Potter and Hunger Games… insert wallet crying.)  I really would love to do them all, but I promise I’ll behave myself… maybe, possibly, perhaps?  J

Anyways, this sounded like the perfect solution to keep my motivation up leading up to our big race in January!  Eliot thinks it’s a cool idea too.  We’ve also had a few ideas for our own medal designs, so who knows?  We might put on our own virtual race someday!  J


  1. What is the website for the virtual Disney runs?

    1. It really depends on the race that you're looking for. A lot of the ones that I've signed up for are no longer active. If you search for "virtual run" on you will be able to find some races that are still active.