Monday, May 10, 2021

Are virtual runs worth the money?

I wrote this last year but left it as a draft. I decided to revisit it and post.

So on May 3 (2020), I posted about my virtual Broad Street Run. It was nothing official, there was no cost or medal. It was just a run of solidarity for the annual event that was postponed due to social distancing. However, this post is not about running on a specific day and calling it something. It's about all of the virtual runs that are popping up online. Yes, there have been virtual runs before, but now they're everywhere. Here's my question though. Why?

When I do a race such as Broad Street Run or Philadelphia Half Marathon, I know that I am spending money, but I also understand that the money is going to more than just the medal and t-shirt. Yes, someone is always profiting off a race whether it be the local non-profit or a for-profit. However, the fees also pay to close down streets, the police protection/security, the water stations, finish line snacks, etc. However with a virtual run, you are legit just paying for a medal. Some don't even ask for proof that you ran. You registered? Great. Here's your medal.

So then why do people do it? I can easily go out and run 5k on a random day. In fact, 5k tends to be my normal distance now on weekdays. Does that mean I deserve a medal every time I walk in my front door? I do love my collection of medals, but each one means more than just crossing the finish line. My 2017 Broad Street Run medal was my first 10 miler. My 2018 Rock 'n' Roll medal was my first half marathon. Each medal on my display holds a story and a memory of a day. All my 5ks? Even they have stories that go with them.

With my current training, I am looking forward to crossing that finish line in Central Park and adding my first marathon medal to the rack. However, I'm not going to buy a medal that claims I ran a marathon. I want to earn it. Will I come in first? No. Will I come in last? I hope not. However I will finish and only then when I have a real marathon under my bib will I feel that I earned that medal to display.