Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you
–Billy Joel “Honesty”
I get a lot of email from US Road Running. They mostly sponsor virtual races, but they do have some “live” races as well. My foot is still recovering from the 10K Across the Bay but I figured I could squeeze in a virtual race. One of the selling points for a virtual race is that you can do it any day you like before the “close” of the race. The races usually close at the end of a month. I signed up in September for the Pirate 5k (gray). I had until the end of November to complete my 5K and upload the results to the website.
Registration: US Road Racing has a ton of different races you can sign up for. They have different distances (5k, 10K, 13.1, 26.2) and different themes (Pirate,Crazy Monkey, Luaua). Each race has a medal. The pirate medal looked cool so I made my choice and registered. Most races cost $16.99 and that gets you the medal and a bib. For $24.99 you get a medal and a shirt. I registered to get the medal and shirt. Both arrived within a week (before I even ran my race).
Race Day: I got to choose. I chose the Saturday after the 10K Across the Bay. Scheduling couldn’t be easier. Weather bad? Reschedule the race. Tired? Grumpy? Lazy? Reschedule. You can choose the time and place.
The race: You can run wherever you want. Treadmill? Check. Around the park? Check. Down the side of a mountain? Check. Once again the choice is yours. According to the website: “Run/Walk at any location you want. You can use the treadmill, run outside, your own course, another race, or get your running group together. You can run the event any day before the race end date.”
I went with my normal 5K practice run. Nothing fancy. Not too flat and not too hilly. I should have found a hill to run down and achieve a personal record. Instead I took a light jog out and back and recorded my time 26:58. Pretty bad time considering I could have tilted every factor in my favor.
Post Race: My wife and daughter were in the kitchen making breakfast, so I was treated to scrambled eggs and coffee. Can’t beat that. Afterwards my daughter (and beagle) presented me with my finisher’s medal. I was also able to take a hot shower within 15 minutes of finishing the race.
Goodies: Technical T-Shirt (note that the shirt is a generic US Road Running shirt and not Pirate 5K specific) and finisher’s Medal.
Sounds like the perfect race, and in many ways it was. Easy to sign up, a course of my choice, on a day/time that fits my schedule, an awesome medal, and my family waiting for me at the finish line. What this race made me realize is that I really enjoy the comraderie of running with others. I may not be the most social runner (sometimes I don’t speak to anyone at a race), but I still need those nameless competitors. I need you to inspire me to run faster and I enjoy trying to do the same for you. I like the small crowd at the end of a local 5K cheering you on. I like thanking the volunteers as I try and snatch a cup of water out of their hands. I like to give high-fives to strangers as I run. I like to thank the policeman directing traffic as I run through an intersection. I realized that other people make the race worth running.
Notes from running a virtual race: Integrity is the key to a virtual race. It would be too easy to cheat. That is probably why there are no special awards for place, age or gender. I could have used any time and posted it as my finish time. I could wait until minutes before the race date closes and post the best time.
I prefer the live races. I see virtual races as a great opportunity to compete if you live in an area where there are not a lot of races. You can measure yourself against other runners all over the world. The variety of races and race medals keeps things interesting. I chose US Road Running, but there are other companies that sponsor these types of races.
As of this publication, with 7 days to go in the race, I am currently in 2nd place for the 40-44 year old males group and 20th overall.