Tell someone you’ve signed up for a virtual race and you might get a baffled response: What? How? Why?
INKnBURN Ambassador Joanna Williams, 40, from California, MD, will be more than happy to fill you in. Her company, Race for Awareness, runs virtual races to raise money for non-profit charities. “A virtual race is a self-motivated competition that is organized online where you complete a specific distance by running, walking or cycling on a date and time of your choosing, anywhere in the world,” explains Joanna. A virtual race can be completed on a treadmill, around your neighborhood, with a group of friends, solo–or in any other combination.
Says Joanna, “Virtual races give you the power to own your race experience and make it personal.”
Started in September of 2013, Race for Awareness (RFA) is a women-owned, family-owned and veteran-owned company that strives to give back as much as possible to the charities they work with.
“We display charity response letters on our website,” says Joanna, “because we believe transparency and open disclosure information is essential for maintaing the trust participants place in us. For each virtual race, at least 80% of net proceeds are donated to the featured charity.”
Participating in RFA’s Virtual Races is surprisingly simple: scroll through a list of virtual races, from Human Trafficking Awareness to Organic Farming Awareness, choose from the 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon options, complete the race at your preferred date, time and location, and receive your earned medal.
“The virtual race can be completed it many ways. I have mapped out my routes and dedicated the run to a cause. Others have organized small groups to meet up and run a distance together. Participants that travel complete their miles in a hotel treadmill or find new places to run where they are visiting.” Says Joanna, “That’s the beauty of virtual races–you are helping a charity by entering our races and rewarding yourself with a medal for the miles you completed.”
Joanna even runs her own races; every time she orders new medals for a race, she makes sure she tries out the race herself. Since 2009, she has run nearly 40 races, some of which include the Navy Air Force 5K, Navy Air Force Half-Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon–which makes sense. Joanna was in the United States Air Force for four years, during which running was, of course, required.
“My introduction into running,” she explains, “was to pass the military fitness test.” But it wasn’t until years later that she developed a love for the sport. “A friend of mine invited me to join her on a 5k race. I was nervous because I thought races were for “real runners.” Joanna finished, realized she had loved the race and finally saw herself as a runner. Soon, she was signing up for another, and another after that.
Since her first 5K, Joanna has run 17 more 5Ks, several 10Ks, and one dozen half-marathons. Along with a bevy of shorter distances planned for this year, Joanna will be running her first ultramarathon, a 50K, early next year.
Earlier this year, Joanna, in addition to her role at Race for Awareness (Programmer/Graphic Artist/IT Instructor), became an INKnBURN Ambassador.
“I was first introduced to the brand when I saw the Steam Punk Tech Shirt online in 2013,” she says. “ I love the artistic designs of INKnBURN and how anyone can distance themselves from the norm and stand out in a crowd while being comfortable.”
Some of Joanna’s favorite designs include the Women’s Dragonfly and Wildflower designs. “I love the meaning of “Bravely growing wild and free in a world plagued by conformity.” I get the most complements from complete strangers when I wear these designs.”
Interested in trying a virtual race? Check out Race for Awareness here: http://www.racesforawareness.com