Kelly Arnott, co-founder of VR Pro Races, leads the team behind one of Ontario’s most popular road races, the Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty 5K. Arnott’s team has announced a slate of three dynamic and inspirational virtual races to bring runners together from coast to coast to coast when they need it the most, and to raise money for charities including two local hospitals.
It’s no surprise that virtual runs have become so popular. The pandemic, and all the event cancellations, have taken a toll on runners’ motivation. Virtual runs can help. They can give runners back a sense of community and it can also with goal-setting.
“At this time when we have to social distance to avoid the spread and real races have been cancelled, we can still all go out and run or walk and train,” says Arnott. “Goals are so important and therefore having something substantial to work towards such as your first 5K or 10K is an ideal motivator.”
Kate Hays, a psychologist and founder of the Toronto Marathon’s psyching team, thinks virtual runs can really help. “Virtual runs give the opportunity to ‘do’ the event and to be acknowledged for accomplishment,” she said. “They can also be a method of connecting and competing with running buddies…at a distance.”
VR Pro has three unique virtual runs.
The COVID-19 Virtual Run For Our Hospital: This charity virtual run will benefit two local Ontario hospitals: Joseph Brant in Burlington, and St. Joseph’s in London. Arnott said she was asked by a few of the Chilly Half runners to take on the fundraiser, and she didn’t waste any time getting started. Both hospitals will also be setting up donations and pledges through the VR Pro website.
Canada Day 5K and 10K: This classic summer race is going virtual this year, and in so doing, is hoping to create a community of runners across the country to come together and celebrate our country. “We are hoping that everyone will come together and run or walk 5 or 10k with us where ever you are in Canada to celebrate this great county of ours,” Arnott says.
The Virtual Butter Tart 5K & 10K: What better way to reward a great day of running that with a delicious homemade butter tart! This race is something special celebrating both athletic achievements and taking the time to appreciate some of the finer things in life, namely the butter tart—one of Canada’s classic comfort foods. Race kits for this one include a butter tart!
“I had a friend that wanted to put on a Buttertart festival so we put that together and with everything I do, there always is a race to go along with that,” Arnott says. “I started baking and handing out as prizes and gifts and now I make about 100 per week!”
All events come with complete race kits to complete the experience: shirts, unique and custom race medals, bibs — the works!
Arnott has also created a vibrant community on Facebook to support runners and share successes. It’s kind of her thing. She wants VR Pro to continue to foster that supportive atmosphere that is so appreciated at her other events.
“I think all the years that I was in retail and developed personal relationships with so many customers that I just like to connect,” she says. “Our VR Pro world is much the same but even stronger these days and our runners have been so happy to be able to share their workouts and feelings. This has been very therapeutic for all of us to be together on this journey.”