People run for many reasons: health, fun, bling, that’s right, bling; the adult equivalent of a participation ribbon, a memento of a goal reached, and a great way to create excitement among charity runners. Virtual races are becoming more popular than ever, but what is a virtual race? Midwest Meetings spoke with Dwight and Regina Jackson, who run (pun intended) Will Run For Bling and Charity, “A virtual race is a race that can be ran at any location. You can walk, use the treadmill, run outside, or participate in another race. You run your race at your pace wherever you like.”
The exact date of the first Virtual 5k is unknown, Dwight said, “We got interested in it from our own participation. We thought it was an excellent idea and gave us an opportunity to earn bling and still challenge ourselves. We wanted more fun medals and decided to go into the business for ourselves.”
The number one benefit of a Virtual 5k is “Flexibility” said Regina. “Sometimes people with busy schedules can’t get to race events in their area due to work or family commitments. Also the cost, I think every runner has a dream of participating in a Disney Run, but it is not cheap. Plus you have to consider travel expenses, as well. It can all add up. Virtual races provide a way to stay encouraged and get awesome bling at the same time.”
Traditional 5ks are in essence, road races. The date, time, and route are pre-set by organizers. Streets are blocked, multitudes of volunteers are on staff to help, and everyone runs/walks together. In the world of Virtual 5ks participating individuals have the capability to run/walk when it is convenient to them, in an atmosphere they prefer, and at their own pace without pressure. These new ingredients create greater fundraising potential. Dwight gives us a closer perspective, “We love when groups get together to run and we especially love when families who are in different states can participate together. Plus we love giving back.”
Will Run For Bling and Charity works mainly with national based organizations. “We pick organizations that we believe in, however we have worked with other smaller organizations to help them host their own virtual runs. We provide our design expertise and handle all the logistics, while they handle the marketing.”
There is value added for each participant beyond giving back and “the quality of our bling” Dwight said. The online community provides a lot of encouragement in his opinion. The Jackson’s favorite part of coordinating Virtual 5ks is, “The stories. We love our runners. The stories of accomplishments, people being encouraged, and going after fitness goals is AMAZING. Our runners encourage each other. It’s like one big family running together.”
Because Virtual 5ks are so flexible, there is no reason for you to not give it a try. There are plenty of organizations that coordinate virtual charity runs of all distances; choose your favorite charity and lace up your sneakers. At the end of your miles, no matter your time, you are giving back to a great cause and earning a little bling to show off with pride.