Off the Beaten Path

Vir­tu­ally Thrilling

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Marc Bhalla Marc Bhalla is a me­di­a­tor who trav­els across Canada for the vol­un­teer work he pro­vides to the Cana­dian Con­do­minium In­sti­tute. He al­ways brings his run­ning shoes with him.

“I put on all of my medals at once to bask in the glory of my col­lec­tive achieve­ments. I started from the bot­tom, now I’m here, as Drake would say.”

Ilove races be­cause they bring ev­ery type of run­ner to­gether, cul­mi­nat­ing in the thrill of race day fi­nally ar­riv­ing af­ter months of train­ing and prepa­ra­tion. Ev­ery­thing about a race is thrilling, from that quiet mo­ment just be­fore the start to the sat­is­fac­tion of cross­ing the fin­ish line.

For me, the best part of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a race – of any du­ra­tion – is get­ting a medal upon com­ple­tion. It’s not so much the bling it­self that I’m af­ter as it is the sym­bol of ac­com­plish­ment, ev­i­dence that I did it. Tak­ing home this to­ken and dis­play­ing it proudly gives me sat­is­fac­tion. The var­i­ous medal dis­plays of­fered to the run­ning com­mu­nity surely in­di­cate that I am not alone in this en­joy­ment, though I would be ly­ing if I didn’t ad­mit that, be­yond dis­play pur­poses, ev­ery now and again I get tempted to em­brace the sen­ti­ment of the Drake lyric, “I wear ev­ery sin­gle chain, even when I’m in the house.” I put on all of my medals at once to bask in the glory of my col­lec­tive achieve­ments. I started from the bot­tom, now I’m here, as Drake would say.

It comes down to this: medals mo­ti­vate me. They are my dan­gling car­rot when­ever I find my­self in need of mo­ti­va­tion to train and re­mind me of past glory when­ever I ques­tion if I have what it takes to com­plete my next chal­lenge. They are par­tic­u­larly spe­cial to me be­cause I run my races with my wife and feel that they cap­ture the essence of the ad­ven­tures we share – the where, when and what of our spe­cial mo­ments run­ning to­gether.

So, when I found my­self in Ed­mon­ton this past April with a few hours to kill be­fore hit­ting the hay in ad­vance of a f light home, I could not help but fix­ate on an email from runDis­ney about their se­cond vir­tual run­ning shorts se­ries – a se­ries of three 5ks in con­sec­u­tive months. I had not pre­vi­ously known about vir­tual races and was fas­ci­nated by the con­cept of run­ning a race when, where and how it suited me – and re­port­ing back based on the hon­our sys­tem.

Vir­tual races are not in­tended to re­place the real deal, but of­fer a great mo­ti­va­tion to train and run, with the in­cen­tive of a medal as the re­ward. While runDis­ney is known for their su­perb medals, they are not the only group of­fer­ing vir­tual races. I re­cently came across the Hog­warts Run­ning Club on­line, which also of­fers a se­ries of races along with medals that will surely in­ter­est any­one fond of J.K. Rowl­ing’s world of wiz­ardry. Plus, their pro­ceeds sup­port char­i­ties, adding to a good cause and mak­ing you feel even bet­ter about par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Vir­tual races are in­ex­pen­sive and f lex­i­ble. While they of­fer a win­dow of time to run them, you need not be thwarted by bad weather, a mi­nor in­jury or other life com­mit­ments. You can run them on your terms. While you do not have the group ca­ma­raderie of a real race, you can cer­tainly run a vir­tual race in a group or with a part­ner, as I do with my wife – per­haps even ar­rang­ing your own medal pre­sen­ta­tion “cer­e­mony” when you cross the fin­ish line.

Vir­tual races are per­haps the eas­i­est for cheaters to ma­nip­u­late, though do­ing so com­pletely misses the point as you would only be cheat­ing your­self. I am proud of my medals be­cause I earned them and am mo­ti­vated to par­tic­i­pate in races for them. Vir­tual races of­fer the same type of mo­ti­va­tion, but in the com­fort of my own neigh­bour­hood – even my tread­mill, if need be.

If you ever are in need of a lit­tle ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion to train, con­sider sign­ing up for a vir­tual race, and adding to your medal col­lec­tion in the process.

Run Dis­ney vir­tual race medals

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