Virtual running races seem to be becoming more and more popular in the running world. For those that haven’t come across them yet, the idea behind them is that you sign up to a race, but instead of having to then travel to the venue on a set date, you complete the distance any where you want. Sometimes they have a set date on which you need to complete the ‘race’ other times again it can be done in your own time. Once you’ve completed the distance, you upload proof (e.g. link to Strava profile), and then you get a nice shiny medal through the post.
For me personally I like the anticipation of running a race; the nerves at the start, and the comradery with fellow runners is all part of the experience. I also perform better in a race, running a much quicker pace than I manage on training runs. However I totally see the attraction of virtual races. Organised races can often be intimidating, especially to new runners, and anything that gets more people out running is a good thing in my book.
One of the more popular virtual running sites is the Hogwarts Running Club based on the popular Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. In their own words:
Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) is a .. charitable organization that organizes virtual running events inspired by the wizarding world designed to promote walking/running, provide unique and awesome medals, and, most importantly, raise money for deserving charities in order to accomplish our mission of changing the muggle-world one mile at a time.
They’ve been going a few years, raising an impressive amount of money for charity. There are no membership fees (they have members all over the world), you simply sign up to one of their events (a reasonable $25) and away you go. They have 6 events a year, of varying distance; there is no pressure to complete the event on a certain date (although to encourage group running a suggested run date is often included); you are also able to split the distance into a number of smaller runs if the challenge is to long (the most recent was a half-marathon). They also run an ‘honor’ system where no proof of running is required; you pay your money and receive your medal, running the distance is up to your conscience!
Having a 10 year old daughter who is Harry Potter mad, and often needs a bit of motivation to do some more exercise, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I therefore signed her and her 8 year old brother (who is already a decent little runner) up to the most recent event; The Half-Blood Prince Half-Marathon. For those familiar with the books, you’ll know that the Half-Blood Prince was played in the films by Alan Rickman, who sadly died in January of this year, the challenge therefore supported ‘Project Purple’ who raise money for those families affected by pancreatic cancer.
Now a half-marathon was quite a challenge to start with for a 10 and 8 year old, so we broke it down to a series of 1 mile runs; either just round the block where we live; the local park; and wherever possible Junior Park Run. This weekend, roughly six weeks after we started, the challenge was finally completed. Handily the medals had also arrived this week, both kids being thrilled with them.
I’d certain recommend the Hogwarts Running Club, especially to those Harry Potter fans, it’s also a great way to get the kids running. The medals are very impressive. I’ve already signed my two up to the next challenge, a marathon! This may take a bit longer to complete, although they’ve already split it down to a 5k, 6k, 10k and half marathon, with a medal for each.
For more information check out: http://www.hogwartsrunningclub.org/