When Virtual Runner’s founder Susan first set up the organisation ten years ago, her main aim was to raise some sponsorship for an upcoming marathon.
Fast forward a decade and the initiative has raised over £750,000 for charities across the UK. At least 20% of the revenue from races are donated to charity, with good causes chosen by members of the Virtual Runner community themselves. Here we take a look back at the biggest races – and biggest donations – of the past 10 years.
1. Run 22
Set up in memory of the 22 victims of the Manchester bombings in 2017, this remains VR’s biggest race to date. With over 4,200 participants it raised more than £60,000 for charity – with funds split between the Manchester Evening News’ fund for survivors and NW Trust.
2. Run 3.2 for Captain Seath
Runners across the country were touched by the tragic death of 31-year-old Army Captain David Seath, who collapsed at the 23-mile marker of the London Marathon in 2016. Run 3.2 was set up to raise funds for Help for Heroes, with people running the remaining distance of the marathon that Capt Seath was sadly never able to complete. The race raised over £20,000.
3. NHS, back our Heroes
Some of our biggest races took place during the Covid lockdown period, with this one in April 2020 attracting over 1,800 runners. 100% of the profits – a total of £12,500 – were donated to NHS Charities Together.
4. We Beat 2020 raising funds for Mind
Another race from the Covid period. This one featured a specially-designed medal featuring toilet rolls, Zoom calls and germs, and raised £9,000 for Mind, whilst keeping people motivated during a challenging time.
5. Unicorn 2017
Another fundraiser for Mind, this one saw over 2,300 people hit the streets in January 2017 to run/walk/cycle a minimum of 10k, and it raised over £7,000.
6. VE Day 2020
This race, another lockdown effort, gave runners the chance to celebrate VE Day by raising money for the RAF Association. Participants were urged to run/walk/cycle as many miles as they could in a week. Over 2,400 people completed the challenge and the grand total was over £7,000.
7. Poppy Challenge 2016
This was the first time this challenge was run, and it has been a firm favourite in the annual Virtual Runner calendar ever since. A little different to the usual races – it runs throughout November and the aim is to reach a collective total of 88,246km, to represent the 88,246 poppies displayed at the Tower of London to remember fallen WW1 soldiers.
This one raised over £6,000 for the British Legion.
8. Gold Ticket 2017
With a film-inspired medal, this race raised more than £6,000 for the Meningitis Research Foundation.
9. Poppy Challenge 2017
Identical in format to the 2016 challenge (see number 7) this one raised more than £5,000.
10. Unicorn 2018
It seems the Virtual Runner community love a unicorn! This race was the same format to the 2017 Unicorn challenge but raised funds – more than £5,000 for Be Child Cancer Aware.