How to Host a Virtual Race for Your Fundraiser

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With the UK currently under lockdown because of the coronavirus epidemic, many traditional fundraising events, such as the London Marathon, have been cancelled. Despite this, there are still plenty of ways to support the causes you care about – and virtual races in the UK are a fun and active way to do so. As well as generating some healthy competition, organising a virtual run in the UK is a great way to keep fit and healthy.  

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What is a virtual race?

A virtual race is a running event that can be done anywhere and at a time convenient to you. Whether you’re running on a treadmill, in your garden or at a local park, participants simply record their distance on a running app or GPS device and upload the results to evidence their achievement to supporters.  

Whether you’re new to running, considering a virtual 5K in the UK, or keen to try a virtual marathon, the beauty of virtual running is that the race can be run at a time, location and pace that works for you, even during lockdown.

How to plan your own virtual 5K

Firstly, identify your cause. Think about what matters to you and where you want the money you raise to go. From NHS Charities Together, to local projects, running for a cause you believe in is a great motivator.

Consider where, how and when you want to undertake your virtual race. After the London Marathon was postponed, Natalie Bowbanks decided to run a virtual marathon in the UK in her back garden, a distance equating to 2,096 laps. Natalie is raising money for NHS staff and has almost doubled her £1,000 target.   

Enlist participants

Regardless of your fitness level, almost everyone can participate in a virtual run event. Recruit family, friends, colleagues, neighbours – or even your pet dog – to create a virtual run team that puts Mo Farah to shame. 

Select a distance

Depending on your fitness level, your virtual run could range from a virtual 5K race, to a virtual marathon. Participants seeking inspiration should look to The 2.6 Challenge. 

Created in response to the postponement of this year’s London Marathon, The 2.6 Challenge encourages people to take part in activities based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 to raise money for charity. The event, which was established by London Marathon Events, The Great Run Company, Human Race and parkrun, aims to plug the £4billion shortfall in charitable funds raised on the big day with a series of virtual run events in the UK. Scheduled for Sunday 26 April – the original date for this year’s London Marathon – The 2.6 Challenge can be “anything that works for you”, says Nick Rusling, co-chair of the Mass Participation Sports Organisers (MSO) group and CEO of Human Race. 

“You can run or walk 2.6 miles, 2.6km or for 26 minutes,” he says. “You could do the same in your home or garden, go up and down the stairs 26 times, juggle for 2.6 minutes, do a 26 minute exercise class or get 26 people on a video call and do a 26 minute workout – anything you like.”

Run, jog or walk?

One of the great things about a virtual race is that almost anyone can get involved. Even if you’ve never run in your life, participating in a virtual race is still possible. Whether you’re new to virtual racing, a wheelchair user or a marathon veteran, there’s a virtual race for you. If you’re still unsure, look to Captain Tom Moore. The 99-year-old war veteran has walked 99 laps of his garden using a walking frame to raise over £17 million (and counting) for NHS charities – inspirational stuff. 

Virtual marathon tips

Create a virtual race playlist

Music is a great motivator, so selecting some of your favourite songs to listen to during your virtual race might be the difference between pushing you forward at a challenging point and losing momentum. Sam Hustler, 27, who ran a half-marathon virtual race on his London balcony in March, credited his playlist as a major factor in keeping him going. Pro tip: it’s thought only 130 songs are needed for a virtual 10k run playlist. 

While there are plenty of running playlists available on Spotify, it can be fun to allow your loved ones to take the reigns and create a special motivational playlist for your virtual race – a gesture guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Make it fun

While a virtual race may not have the supportive crowds, sound systems and water stations that characterise a typical race, it doesn’t mean you should shirk on pomp and ceremony. Undertaking your virtual race in fancy dress, creating a theme or erecting a ‘finish-line’ ribbon can all add to the sense of occasion. Share photos with other participants or arrange a celebratory Zoom chat to toast your achievements. Awarding prizes for the best outfit or best time is another way to generate some healthy competition.

Stay hydrated

Without the usual water stations reminding you to pause for a drink, it’s vital you stay hydrated during your virtual race. Ensure you factor in water breaks to your virtual race event to keep your body operating at peak performance – and don’t forget to stretch after completing your virtual race to help your body recover.

Plan your virtual run today

Hosting a virtual race is an excellent way to fundraise, whilst staying active during the Covid-19 lockdown. The convenience and flexibility of a virtual race also makes it an inclusive way to motivate and encourage participation. GoFundMe is a simple and effective way to have a big impact at a crucial time in our nation’s history. Using our platform fundraising is free, meaning the funds you raise can go directly to the people who need it most. Sign up today and start making a difference.

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Written by GoFundMe Team

The GoFundMe Team creates fresh content to help answer common fundraising questions and share proven fundraising tips and tricks to help you reach crowdfunding success.