Virtual Medals – truly addictive

Dawn Nisbet from Oldham recently had her parkrun photo go viral after her proud finish line after the 5k event.

Here, Dawn tells us why our races/medals can be become addictive – the healthy kind of addiction!

As a not very sporty child, who excelled more in academic subjects than I did at PE, and thought those giant gym knickers that were on every PE kit list whichever school I went to, were teachers’ opportunities to embarrass and shame kids into submission and capitulation, the idea of ever winning a medal at sports day was a heady height I was never destined to achieve. I got rosettes from horse riding, usually for best effort (translates as greatest effort for least talent) and plenty of certificates for best written story, best science project or best freckly kid with zero sports prowess. I always watched those kids on sports day that were effortless in their ability and had a sense of elegance in awe and envy.

One of the boys in my school gifted with said prowess told me I was no good at sport because I had thunder thighs! Wow, aren’t kids kind! And from there we grow up. I think the majority of us adults look back at school and remember we were either mediocre or sub-par at PE and were probably many of us permanently scarred in lasting ways from gym class (albeit not being named “Thunder Thighs”) or being picked towards the end for team sports. Yet as we go into adulthood the opportunity to celebrate our achievements are few and far between and probably most of us had a Granny that told us not to boast and tell everyone how awesome we are.

I have only recently discovered a love of running. It’s certainly not quick and definitely erring more on the sweating rather than glowing side (again my Granny was wrong that ladies don’t sweat, they glow – sorry Granny). Gradually I have built up my distance and speed, but starting to consider the idea of doing races with lots of other people where I (wrongly) assume everyone else are the elite kids from my PE class (and may or may not call me “Thunder Thighs” again) filled me with dread.

I saw someone on Facebook talking about ‘Virtual Medals’ and sharing pictures of medals which the school aged, shy and freckly me had serious medal-envy for (yes that’s a real thing). Cue me researching ‘virtual medals’ and discovering away to please my inner child and earning lots of bling whilst supporting charities. As a synopsis, virtual medals set a target, i.e. run 5km in one go, or cover 26.2 miles (a marathon) over a month walking or running. There is a small fee, and usually part of that goes to a charity. It’s as simple as recording your activity on an app, sports watch or the like and submitting it – 3-4 days later a shiny, beautiful medal that would bring a primary school aged child (and a fully grown 41 yr old woman) to tears lands on your doormat. It’s that easy.

Oh, one word of advice – your co-workers might find you a little peculiar when you keep wearing your medals to work!

To start (or grow) your bling collection visit We are sorry if you too become addicted. Well kind of sorry.