I kind-of-sometimes hate the internet for its lies and negativity and spin and uncontrollable takeover of all that is good. But I also kind-of sometimes love it for the communities it builds, the happiness, sharing and opportunities it can provide. Oh, and the shopping.
Today, I learned about another amazing thing that the internet does, and it has put one mammoth big tick in my ‘love the internet’ box.
That thing is… (drum roll please) VIRTUAL RACES!
When I first read (on an American triathlon website that I’ve been reading) the phrase Virtual Races I envisaged a pixelated version of myself running around a fantasy land like the scenes I remember from Super Mario Bros on my cousin’s Sega Mega Drive. I haven’t really played a computer game since that era and I was quite excited to think we’ve progressed enough to have a running race on a games console. Of course, I am an idiot.
So I was intrigued, but then even more excited about Virtual Races when I found out what they really are: a proper race with finisher medals and t-shirts, organised entirely online but taking place wherever you, the participant would like to race.
Generally, you are given a specific weekend or set of dates that you choose from for your run, and you can choose your distance and location. The registration fee is the same no matter who or where you are – and on the day you decide to race, you can imagine all the hundreds or thousands of other racers completing the same thing elsewhere in the world. It’s a bit magical.
The Virtual Race I discovered this morning is for charity – specifically, Project Semicolon. This is a global non-profit movement dedicated to bringing hope and encouragement to those living with depression – a movement that had been selected by the organisers of this race since one of their members lost her 16 year old son to depression in 2014.
At this time of the year in particular, depression can be lethal. Too many people don’t seek help for this disease, or seek help and don’t have the energy to pursue a solution if the first option doesn’t work. In my humble opinion, we don’t take mental illness seriously enough as a disease – we would never give a cancer patient some tablets to take and ask them to come back in a few months if they don’t feel any better. But we do that with mental illness, and I think for the diseased mind that’s asking too much.
So I felt inspired reading about Project Semicolon and the conversations they are trying to start (and continue). I signed up for the virtual race here and I thought I would share it on my blog because any of YOU, dear readers, can take part too!
The race dates are Friday 15th January to Monday 18th January – choose your day. You can race any distance you want and the entry fee is USD30 – plus postage cost to your country of your medal and t-shirt afterwards. A portion of your registration fee goes directly to Project Semicolon (the portion depends on how many sponsors they get and how many people ultimately sign up, but the last race raised over USD4000 for another charity)
You need to get on the website (here) and sign up by January the 8th. It will be a great start to your 2016! Make it a walk/run with your kids/family or a friend. Or your dog! And race because you are free from mental illness and you are grateful.
Note: if you are not free from mental illness, it is time to talk to someone. This post is a sign for you. Make an appointment with your doctor today, or ask your friend over for a coffee and tell them you are not OK.
I haven’t decided what exact date I’ll do my race yet, so if you sign up to take part please leave a comment below, no matter where you are in the world… I might be able to organise to run at the same time so that we do it ‘together’!