Rebecca running with her dog

I quite like running now. I never was a runner before (I love and still love cycling!) but after going through a lull with cycling earlier on in the year and incorporating Park Run more and more into my fitness regime I decided to enter in a few races. Two races I entered myself in for were virtual runner races.

What is Virtual Runner UK

Virtual Runner UK is a site where you can enter in races and gain medals with part of the proceeds you pay for going towards a charity. Once you enter, you have to email in your result and proof that you ran the distance (proof could be your fitness tracker, Park Run result or Strava) and your medal arrives through the post. You can even print out a bib number and wear it if you want! When you enter your result you can see how other people have done. There are many distances from 5k up to full marathons and I decided to enter in the Run like a Time Lord as part of the money went to the National Autistic Charity and November 5k as part of SBR events. The November 5k medal I will particularly treasure as it is the flag of Lincolnshire and as I am born and bred there it is particularly important to me.

How did I find it

I am quite fit so both races that I entered were 5ks so they were fine. I think if you are starting out these races are perfect because depending on your distance it is a challenge but still achievable. Obviously you miss out on the crowds and the race atmosphere but if you find that intimating, as that atmosphere doesn’t suit everyone, then it is perfect. The medals are lovely as well (although some are a bit tacky!), the races are cheaper to enter then marshalled races because obviously you are not paying for the marshalls etc and the money goes towards charity. The medals came very quickly through the post and the results were verified in less than 24 hours.

Am I entering in any other Virtual Running UK races next year?

No not at the moment, I am thinking about running a marathon next year so to keep my motivation up I may enter in some of the half marathons.


Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.