On http://loveto.run I write race reports (I’m a bit far behind) of actual races so I thought I’d start doing something similar for virtual races (They are on the rise and virtual medals jusat keep getting better and better). I’ve started researching different ones and will be doing kinda of a race report meets review for each virtual race and virtual race organiser that I enter. POW Virtual Running is the first.
I see a lot of medals, as the owner of Medal Watch I actively seek them out. Some stand out more than others and some you just fall in love with and have to have which is how I ended up doing the POW Winter Run. The medal was so popular that it is now sold out (200 extra medals were ordered to meet demand and the race raised £832.43 for Maggie’s Centres) but POW have some amazing superhero themed medals for virtual races over the next six months available.
Here is POW Virtual Running’s definition of a virtual race:
A virtual race is a race that can take place wherever you want, in your own time and at your own pace. A virtual race can be completed on a treadmill, around a racetrack, a beachfront, even during another competitive race, wherever!
POW are a relatively new virtual race organiser on the scene. According to their website:
POW! Virtual Running is owned and run by a primary school teacher by day, dad of one, running bug catching guy from Swansea in South Wales. The idea began when I saw that there was a gap in the market for people who either can’t travel to races, people who are training for their first competitive race or for seasoned runners who are looking for a ‘stop-gap’ between organised races. (Or in my case, people who just like great medals!)
We’re all for people who just like great medals.
Each race gives a percentage of the profits to a charity, the Gotham 10k (which covers 1st to 31st January) for example will be donating 20% of all profits to Asthma UK. Each race is currently £10 which includes postage within the UK. For those who want to enter from outside of the UK you can select your delivery option at the checkout but an extra fee of up to £7.50 will be charged. You can combine delivery for multiple eateries to save on price (e.g. one entry £7.50, two £10 and three entries for £12.50 shipping). They are also do race gift vouchers at the moment so you can give a loved one a virtual race for Christmas. Entry was very straight forward. I clicked on the link to add the race to my cart and it then just completed the standard paypal checkout where you either pay with a paypal account or a debit/credit card. I got an email straight away to confirm my payment.
The day after I entered I went to the website link for race bibs and mine was there. Runner 494. The Winter Run one is actually quite pretty (I’ve seen worse real race bibs) and I like it better when I get assigned a number rather than being given a generic bib because it feels more like a race race.. I don’t print virtual bibs because it’s a bit of a waste of a tree I think but I put them in my running photo album on facebook. There’s also an entry list on the website for each race (Gotham 10k has 500 entrants already, that’s pretty impressive).
All of the races have a set distance to complete (usually 10k but for some you can pick 5k, half or marathon options) but you don’t need to run the whole distance in one day as long as you complete it within the time frame given (Usually a calendar month). I ran my 10k around the track (I’m building my track distance up to a marathon, virtual races are a great incentive for this because I can’t just give up. I treat it mentally like a real race). I actually ran 8 miles but I stopped my watch at 10k and then started it again so that I’d have the right distance to email as evidence that I’d completed the run. You need to email or tweet your proof to the details provided, don’t post it on the facebook page. I sent a link to my strava (Which is public. If your strava is not public no one else will be able to see it) but I could have sent a screen print of any type of gps data to confirm that I’d done the 6.2 miles. You could also send a photo of your treadmill screen or watch. Stuart replied very quickly to say he’d got it and that my medal would be posted with the next run (Medals are posted monthly).
Three days later this a very pretty medal arrived in the post. Considering it was only £10 to enter it’s a very good quality medal, it’s got some weight and is very well made. I also like the added touches of the congratulations message and the POW sticker on the envelope (I need some of those for Medal Watch). All in all, it was a very easy process from entering, sending the proof and then getting the medal and it’s certainly value for money.
In conclusion, it was a very positive experience with POW Virtual Running, I would recommend them. They put a lot of thought into their medals, the quality is really good, the process is quick and effortless (Well except the running bit) and you’re doing a little bit to help others. They have some amazing medals coming up in the next few months, all super hero/comic book related. I might be having to do a few more. My one and only suggestion would be that it might be nice to have somewhere for people running the events to communicate and support each other, maybe a facebook group for POW Running runners. Creating events on facebook are also good ways for people to share too and it brings a social aspect to what can be a lone event.
I hope to interview Stuart for Behind the Medal soon but if you want to do some POW running you can find more about the races on their website http://www.powvirtualrunning.co.uk/ or visit their facebook or twitter.
We’ll be reviewing a lot more virtual races over the next year.
Written by Sarah Matthews on 16/12/2016