Name: Stuart James
Name of race organisation: POW! Virtual Running UK
Tell us a bit about your organisation. How old is it and how did it come about?
We are a relatively new race organisation! We have been operating for around 6 months. I caught the running bug after we had our little girl in 2012 and decided that I wanted to up my (tiny) medal collection. I had only ever taken part in local 5k and 10k races and loved the reward of a medal at the end. Unfortunately I live in a part of Wales where races were few and far between and didn’t want to go to the expense and time of traveling great distances to compete. I had taken part in a few virtual races, but after searching online, nothing out there grabbed my interest, so decided to create my own! Being a bit of a self proclaimed comic book geek I though it would make a perfect ‘theme’ which was where POW! was born!
What virtual races do you organise?
I organise month races which are of a ‘parody’ of certain comic book characters. Each month is either a decided distance OR we offer months where you can choose your own distance (5k, 10k, half etc). 20% of our profits each month go to charity of often our followers choice.
What do you personally get out of putting on virtual races?
I’ve had many emails off people who have said how our races have got them back into running after either a long break or an injury, and I think its these types of emails that spur me on the most. Hearing that someone had almost given up on running until seeing our races and getting back out there is awesome!
Why virtual races? What do you think are the benefits?
I think the biggest benefit is being able to complete the distance in your own pace and time. We tell all of our runners that they can either run in one go or split up their distances into as many smaller runs as they want. I think this is a big pull to anyone who is perhaps just beginning their running journey. I myself felt very self conscience in my first official race and didn’t like other people watching me run (I’ve lost around 4 stone running) so I feel that this is another reason people like the ‘own pace and time’ element.
Do your races help raise money for charity? If yes, brag a little.
Haha well 20% of our profits go to a different charity each month. We try and choose charities that our runners have chosen and will always try to visit or talk with the charities before hand so that we can get a sense of what people’s money will do. If anyone would like to suggest a future charity they can contact us at POWVirtualRunning@gmail.com
Are you yourself a runner?
Yes, without it sounding too cliche, running really has changed my life. I’ve lost around 4 stone is weight and finally found a sport that I can actually do and excel in (I was that kid that was always picked last hahah)
Have you ever ran one your own virtual races? (If you could only run one which one would it be?)
I always run my own races, Id feel a hypocrite promoting a race I haven’t completed myself too- every medal up on my wall is earned.
What do you think medals add to your races?
Oh its all about the bling isn’t it! People have really responded amazingly to the medals. We try to make them as eye catching and colourful as possible. We want people to be proud to put them up on the wall, not something that just ends up in that draw we all have full of ‘stuff’
Why should people sign up for your virtual events?
Its a chance to get get active, its fun, you can do them in your own time and pace and you get some nice bling as a reward!
Which country are you based in and do you ship outside of that country?
We are based in the UK but ship worldwide (just choose delivery options at checkout) We have so far had entries from Ireland, the USA, NZ, Dubai and the Netherlands…
What’s your favourite medal from your own races?
So far… Id have to say the ‘Flash Dash’ medal, there’s something about shiny gold that speaks to me! Haha but there’s one coming up that I can’t wait for people to see!!
What’s your favourite medal ever? (You can be bias)
I would have to say my first ever Swansea half marathon medal, its not particularly flashy (sorry Swansea!) but I achieved it at a time where I thought half marathons were way out of my league and I was really proud of my achievement. Since then I’ve completed 6 others and I’m currently training for my first Marathon in London! How did that happen??
That you very much for answering our questions Stuart and good luck for London Marathon, we’ll be there too. We’re a massive fan of the the POW medals, there’s some great ones coming up, so finding out the story behind them has been very inspiring. If you love one get in there quick though, we’re still sad that R2D2 has sold out.