***DISCLAIMER NOTE: I’m not 100% knowledgable on these races but these are my own opinions.***
Virtual runs are popping up everywhere now. In a world where we do many things online, we are continuing the trend with “virtual races.” What is a virtual race? It is an event that is hosted by some “virtual race director” who collects your money and will in return mail you a shirt and a medal. They also state they are going to benefit a charity.
So what is the problem with these runs:
1) Proceeds: Not saying a charity will receive money from a virtual race but you cannot be 100% sure on some of these races as to if a charity will receive money. Remember, that these race directors could pocket all of the money from a 1500+ member participant “virtual race” and maybe I’ve $500 back to a charity. Thus they have given the “proceeds” to the charity and guaranteeing they gave money to a charity and take $2500 for their pockets. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE!
2) You get a race medal for doing a 5K. Really? No local 5K’s do that anymore and if you go to a race where you get a medal for completion, it’s because you won an age group award or it is some gimmick event like Warrior Dash, Hot Chocolate 5K, Disney 5K.
3) No official results. Anyone can say they ran a 30:00 5K and call it a race they ran in, including making it a PR (even if they are short.) It’s making people think they are running in a real race without participating in a sport with people and having an official time. I do see these runs as virtual, so everything is virtual. I look at these non-official results as being another gimmick of the obstacle running races and one event I remember: Ugly Sweater Run. You run an event and have no official time of you actually being there.
Now I assume that people who continually (I stress continually, not a 1-time participant) participate in these races are hoping to be charitable by participating in these events. Some may also be scared of running in the local scene. That’s where you meet people and can gain more motivation. There is nothing like racing people and actually seeing the person ahead of you lose steam and you pass them. That’s fun about local events. What else is fun, seeing aid stations, the signs, the smiles of the crowd, the support, cheering on other runners, beer at the finish line, embracing the music (if you wear it), watching birds fly by you while you run along a course, seeing the clouds, or seeing that “interesting building, piece of art or something that catches your eyes” out there that you have never seen before because you are driving by it.
I think people who participate in these races also love the fact that they can participate in an event whenever it fits in their schedule (ummm, isn’t that like doing a normal workout?) I guess you could argue, then why are you paying for a local marathon…paying to run.
Everyone has their own reason to run, race and participate in events. I think everyone has a valid point to not run and to run a race or a virtual race. Again, these are my thoughts. I do not downgrade someone for running a 5K. Granted I do not like them and avoid them, the fact that you got off the couch, make me happy!
I choose to live by this when I run:
1) Try to avoid big races (sometimes it is hard to avoid a Rock N Roll, if that is the only marathon for a city). I am guilty of some of running these bigger races too (Goofy Challenge in 2015, only as a one time thing though to say I’ve done it and to form my opinion on it [Money conglomerate with terrible shirts for the price.])
2) Support local races! They give back a considerable amount of money (20-50% of race registrations) compared to a big name race (1-10%). Read about the Dean Reinke Half-Marathon (any USRA half-marathon in America) debacle. This guy is a crook in the running industry! He puts on half-marathon races in cities. Yet sometimes it is done without getting permits, no real clear information, or shortened races. The most common thing he does is grab your money and not put on a race! Yes, Council Bluffs, Iowa had that happen last year (a city across from Omaha, NE). http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/running/The-Shadiest-Man-in-the-Racing-Biz-Dean-Reinke.html. This guy continually gets an “F” from the Better Business Bureau.
3) Support local races because they support local charities or non-profits! It’s a community thing to give back!
4) Support local running stores! Small businesses are much better for the economy and for you as a runner. There is a reason why local running stores are out there. They give you the support you need to actually buy running shoes that are made for the way you run. Compare that to a Foot Locker or a Dick’s Sporting Goods where they just sell you a shoe based on your size.
5) You get to meet amazing people and have fun opportunities to volunteer. Because I have helped put on races, those people (who are your friends too) in return will help volunteer and help your race out when you need it with no questions asked…even in the blistering cold.
I again will state this…I support all runners! You get off the couch and are motivated (or not even motivated because you hate running) to do something besides staying at home! You as a runner are awesome.
Again these are my own words. Feel free to add negative and positive comments and things for me to think about. I welcome all criticism.