A Putney resident launched ‘virtual runs’ this week, encouraging people to run solo outdoors and improve physical and mental health during social distancing.
The thrill of a real race is brought to its finishers virtually by a mix of traditional post-race rewards of medals, t-shirts and snacks delivered to athletes through the post.
Within a day of being launched, more than 1,000 people registered for a virtual run on RunThrough’s website. The group is now seeking to develop the UK’s largest virtual run over the coming months.
RunThrough co-founder Matt Wood said: “We want to inspire people to get moving and to lift the gloom. It’s the best alternative in this situation, and so it was a no-brainer to introduce our virtual runs.”
Explaining the notion of the runs, Mr Wood added: “Entrants are asked to enter at www.runthrough.co.uk/virtual/, go for a run outside (anywhere) to cover the distance of the race and then email us a picture of the tracked run on an app or smartwatch, with your t-shirt size. We’ll upload your time to our leaderboard and send a medal and goodies in the post.
“We’re encouraging those taking part in the virtual runs to share experiences through our Facebook Chat group too, and we’re already seeing great activity within it.”
One Facebook user commented: “This is a great opportunity to get a medal from a race you wouldn’t normally enter because of its location. I’m in!”
Another added: “Fab idea! I’m signing up for two I’d never get to.”
The alternative concept comes as upcoming races were cancelled due to social distancing, and as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed last week that ‘one form of exercise a day’ outdoors is still permitted.
Commenting further on how running can make a difference to people’s moods, Mr Wood said: “It’s a release, a meditation. Running is my version of that. I need in my life, to have that release. Our vision is to build a community of like-minded people who use running as the way to improve their physical and mental health.”
Entries are open now, with free entry applied for those who had already fully registered for RunThrough’s now cancelled races – such as those which were due to take place in Battersea and Wimbledon.
Since being founded in Putney in 2013 by Ben Green and Mr Wood, RunThrough has attracted more than 500,000 participants to its races across London and as far north as Manchester.