Free Virtual Race with Swag: Global Energy Race Goes Virtual Again in 2021

The Global Energy Race is an event sponsored by Bimbo Bakeries to promote health, wellness, and nutrition. The company donates bread to those in need on behalf of race participants. In the past, the Global Energy Race has taken place in multiple cities all around the world. The first races were held in 2016. I ran the Orlando version three times: Orlando Global Energy Race 2016 | Orlando Global Energy Race 2017 | Orlando Global Energy Race 2018.

In 2020 the race went virtual (here's my brief recap), and, according to the Global Energy Race timeline, participation more than doubled!

The race will be virtual again in 2021, and registration is free. Runners in some locations, including the United States, will be eligible for free swag. Start your registration process here:

You'll need to complete the miles between October 4 and October 10, and submit your results, in order to receive the goodies. Swag includes a tote bag, cooling towel, and finisher medal. Your participation will also result in a $1 donation to Feeding America by the race sponsor, Bimbo Bakeries.

I've signed up -- the free swag is hard to resist and it's fun to be part of something so big, even if only virtually. And of course it supports a great cause.

Since I've completely forgotten to run a couple of virtual races within their time allotment over the last month or so, I'll need to mark this one on my calendar to get it done within the event period!

Race Recaps: 2021 Virtual Star Wars Rival Runs

The 2020 Rival Run Weekend was cancelled due to COVID-19. It would have been the 5th year for Star Wars races at Walt Disney World, and my 5th time running the half marathon. This is my favorite race weekend at Disney World and something I really look forward to each year. It was extra disappointing for all legacy runners who were looking forward to participating in the events for the fifth straight year. 

Unfortunately, the 2021 race weekend, originally sold as an in-person event, was converted to virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. The Star Wars Rival Run Weekend 2021 was originally scheduled to take place on April 16, 17, and 18, 2021. I completed the series a couple of weeks early, during a pleasantly cool few days in early April.

In anticipation of many runners completing the races during the original race weekend, runDisney produced this video for participants in mid-April.

Virtual Race Goals
I had no time goals and planned to mostly walk all three distances. My main goal was to simply complete the series in three consecutive days as the live event would have been.

5K: April 1, 2021
Finish Time: 43:27
When I started at 8AM it was about 68°F. I completed this in my neighborhood.

10K: April 2, 2021
Finish Time: 1:35:42
I completed this on local trails. I started at around 8:28AM when it was a pleasant cool 54°F.

Half Marathon: April 3, 2021
Finish Time: 3:36:12
I walked a few loops through my neighborhood to complete this event. I put a cooler with water and snacks on a lawn chair in our driveway as a makeshift aid station that I walked by a few times. It was 54°F when I started at around 7:38AM. A local, in-person marathon and half marathon was taking place on nearby trails and I could see the runners each time I went by my house. Seeing the runners made me excited to do in-person events again.

Fun fact: this was my second virtual half marathon of all time, following the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon I ran back in March of 2018.

Another fun fact: my finish time of 3:36:12 was faster than three of my in-person half marathons! Disney races are meant for fun and I got my money's worth at the 2019 Rival Run (3:38:31), the 2018 Dark Side Half (3:45:20), and the WDW Half Marathon as part of Dopey 2018 (3:51:40).

As this was originally scheduled to be an in-person race weekend but later converted to virtual, registered runners had several options from which to choose when it came time to decide how to proceed, from full refund to various degrees of partial refund depending on chosen swag options. I decided to take the most swag with the least refund (More Galaxy Option for the 5K and Lightspeed Option for the Challenge). That got me shirts and medals for all events plus challenge.

For this race, the 5K was a separate registration from the Challenge (the 10K plus Half Marathon), but I received all of my shirts and medals in the same jumbo box.

Each race has a different set of featured characters, matching the overall Rival Run theme. The 5K features a two-sided medal with Ahsoka Tano on one side and Darth Maul on the other.

The 10K characters are Princess Leia in A New Hope versus a Stormtrooper.

The Half Marathon spinner medal has Darth Vader on one side and Yoda on the other.

The Challenge shirt and medal both feature a TIE Fighter and an X-Wing. The split spinner medal is a neat idea but the ships don't line up on my medal, unfortunately.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the swag. I like the medals. Yoda looks weird on the Half Marathon medal, but Vader looks good so I'll just display that side. Small bummer that the ships don't line up on the challenge medal.

runDisney started producing their own shirts last year after using nice tech tops from Champion for some time (at least since I started with rD in 2016). Those tops were thick and heavy. They have switched again to a different in-house style which is a good, lightweight tech material, though it has a bit of waffle-weave look and feel, which tends to snag very easily. In fact, my 5K shirt came pre-snagged with a small pick between the neckline and the design.

I'm glad I opted to do all of the Star Wars races virtually, (in my head I'm still 'legacy' on the Half), but I am so looking forward to the next in-person runDisney event. I can't wait for the next Star Wars race weekend! I'm crossing my fingers for 2022!

Race Recap: Melissa's Race 2021

I ran this local charity race for brain cancer in 2019 and participated virtually last year. And in 2021 it was my first in-person race in over a year! I hadn't participated in a race since The House Next Door 5K on March 7, 2020. Even though I'm not running pain-free quite yet, it was super fun to get out and experience the exciting race atmosphere with fellow athletes, cheer on other runners, and cross a finish line once again!

Melissa's Race is put on by Melissa Vosburg, Inc, a charity devoted to supporting brain cancer research through awareness education and fundraising. Last year's event was originally scheduled for April but pushed back, and eventually went virtual with runners encouraged to participate on what would have been Melissa's birthday in September. This year the event was able to proceed in-person, with COVID-19 safety protocols for participants, volunteers, and vendors. 

COVID-19 Protocols
On race day, I was about 10 days out from my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. Small and mid-sized local races have been proceeding for many months now with safety protocols in place, but I felt more comfortable waiting until I was vaccinated before participating. Protocols were similar to what I had understood other events to implement, like runners and volunteers required to wear masks in the start/finish area but could be removed when running; social distancing required at all times; no race-day registration; staggered start times to avoid crowding; number of participants capped at 650 (looks like we had 400 actual finishers out of 471 registered for in-person); water offered in bottles and snacks presented self-serve. At this event, mask wearing was hit-or-miss among participants but in the outdoor setting I felt safe and thought that others were being respectful.

Training & Goals
Following physical therapy in January 2020, my Achilles injury was starting to feel better and I was looking forward to building up my running stamina. As the pandemic began, I was running on my own and seeing improvements. Yay! But in mid-May I started to feel the injury return. I was very wary of catching coronavirus so I postponed getting help for that, and for my aching knees. In my current shape (also having been yo-yo dieting during the entire pandemic and currently carrying more weight than I'd like) I had very low personal expectations for this event. I was going to go with 30/30 run/walk intervals, and hoped to come in under 45 minutes.

Race Day: April 24, 2021
I hadn't picked up my packet prior to race day, so I made sure to arrive in time for that. I managed to shuffle back in time for our group photo. The first runners started at 7:30AM. It was about 66°F with 88% humidity and bright sunny skies when my wave started at 7:40AM.

Mile 1: 12:59
Oh joy, to be in a race again!

Mile 2: 13:19

Mile 3+: 13:56, 1:39*
I went out too fast so I added a few extra walking breaks and had to slow down a bit for each mile. Mile 3 was especially tough. Bummer, but being overweight, under-trained, and out of shape will do that! In the end I was pleased I came in under 42 minutes but I wish it wasn't so hard.

This is a well-organized local race for a very good cause. I hope it will be back as a large event in the coming years. Recommended.

Chip time: 41:46 
Placement details: 19/41 in Age Group, 205th overall out of 400 finishers
Race Amenities: Swag included a nice cotton t-shirt, finisher medal, and drawstring backpack
Cost: $27.95

Report written April 25, 2021

Branded photos (c) Almost There Photography

First Quarter 2021 Virtual Race Round-Up

An unresolved, untreated nagging injury has kept me from making running goals. I finally got a referral from my primary doctor in mid-September (ugh, time flies!) but I've still got to make my appointment. I'm hopeful to have the motivation once I get my COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, I still have some virtual races lined up.

These virtual runs (walks) are mostly completed in my neighborhood or local trail so they unfortunately aren't particularly memorable; individual reports would be even more boring than the usual race report. I still want to note them, especially to shout out the charities involved, so here are some brief recaps from virtual events I completed in January, February, and March 2021.

1 Shark Bite 5K

This fun race series, when an in-person event, consists of a 5K on Saturday evening and the main half marathon/5K event the next day, Sunday. It was scheduled to take place in mid-January before being converted to a virtual event. Although I had signed up for the Feeding Frenzy 5K plus Shark Bite Half Marathon challenge event but converted to the virtual 5K option. 

  • Completed: January 25, 2021 in my neighborhood
  • Charity: Girls on the Run Volusia
  • Cost: $45.40
  • Swag: Medal, Neck Buff
  • Time: 46:38

2 MeStrong 5K

This extremely popular local charity race had to go virtual for its 10th year. Arthur and I walked this together in 2019.

  • Completed: February 7, 2021 in my neighborhood
  • Charity: MeStrong
  • Cost: $72.75 for two packets plus extra souvenir visor
  • Swag: T-Shirt, Tyvek Bib, swag-packed race packet
  • Time: 49:22

3 Lady Track Shack 5K

This race took place as an in-person event on January 30, 2021. I requested to convert my race to virtual and Track Shack kindly obliged. Unfortunately, I didn't complete this race within the date period so I didn't get to submit my results. Track Shack has had several successful in-person events during the pandemic and I am sure they are taking great safety precautions. I think I'll be ready for an in-person event after I get my COVID-19 vaccine.

4 Hang In There 5K

  • Completed: March 14, 2021 on local trails
  • Cost: $45.38
  • Swag: Medal, T-Shirt, Bib
  • Time: 40:57

Keep Calm and Run Slow Tank Top

List: Virtual Christmas Races with Swag to Run in December 2020

Due to pandemic-related race cancellations and postponements, 2020 has seen a rise in popularity of virtual races. 

Are you looking for your next virtual race?

Local race companies are starting to run live events in many locations, with added safety precautions due to the pandemic. Check out your own local races to see if there is something available that you feel comfortable running. Often these races also offer a virtual option, with local pickup. Running a race put on by a local company keeps your money in the community and helps support local charities.

If you can't find local options, or you're just looking for more choices, I found the following holiday themed virtual races with various levels of swag that will ship directly to your home. Several of these runs have budget-friendly prices, especially considering shipping and handling costs. Some races might have additional fees, like a sign-up platform fee or shipping. I tried to note these but I may have missed some. The races also vary in their results submission requirements and when you need to complete your run.

I'm not personally affiliated with any of these races. I cannot vouch for their quality. Some races may have referral links. Please check all available information before registering in case of errors in the list below. Also note that some of these races support charitable causes and will give you the option to add a donation at the time of registration.

1 Greg Warmoth Reindeer Run Presented by AdventHealth for Children

  • Cost: $35 + $3 Processing Fee + $3 Shipping | Local pickup available in Orlando, Florida
  • Charity: Cultural Arts Organizations in Casselberry, Florida
  • Swag: Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Jingle Bell Ornament/Medal
  • Registration Ends: December 11, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Race day is December 12, 2020

Why you should run this: Track Shack is a central Florida running institution, hit hard by the pandemic like so many small businesses. If you're in central Florida like me, support local with this holiday run! This race will also take place in person in Casselberry, Florida.

2 14th Annual Candy Cane 5K

  • Cost: $30 plus $2.50 SignUp Fee plus $3 Shipping | Local pickup available in Winter Springs, FL
  • Charity: Boys Town Central Florida
  • Swag: T-Shirt, Medal
  • Registration Price increase: After December 1, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Race Day is December 12, 2020

Why you should run this: Here's another local race was forced to go virtual this year. I ran this charity race a few years ago: 2016 Candy Cane 5K Race Report. Run for a good cause and get your holiday swag.

3 The 12 Ks Of Christmas Virtual 12K & Challenge

  • Cost: $34 plus $2.97 SignUp Fee plus $5 Shipping | Local pickup will be available in Atlanta, GA
  • Swag: T-Shirt, Medal
  • Registration Price Increase: After December 1, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Run between December 14 and December 25, 2020

Why you should run this: Pick your challenge! Run one 12K or get at least 1K per day for 12 days.

4 Ugly Sweater Christmas Virtual Run

  • Cost: $32 plus $2.86 SignUp Fee | Shipping Included
  • Charity: An orphanage in Lashio, Myanmar
  • Swag: T-Shirt, Medal; other swag like face mask or hat available for an additional cost
  • Registration Ends: December 24, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Run on Christmas Day, December 25, 2020

Why you should run this: Extra fun holiday swag! Run for a good cause and get your holiday goodies.

5 Smashed Santa

  • Cost: $29 plus $2.68 SignUp Fee | Shipping Included
  • Charity: Nikolas Ritschel Foundation
  • Swag: Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Medal, Socks, Beanie
  • Registration Price Increases: December 4, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Run Any Time!

Why you should run this: A budget winner with excellent swag! Pick your distance: 5K; 7K; or 25 Mile Challenge and earn your fun ugly sweater shirt, medal, socks, and beanie!

6 Running on Wine Virtual Christmas Races

  • Cost: $35 plus $3.49 SignUp Fee | Shipping Included
  • Swag: Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Wine Tumbler, Finisher Medal
  • Registration Ends: December 24, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Run Any Time!

Why you should run this: Pick your distance: 5K; 10K; or 100 Mile Challenge. Purchase extra fun Christmas swag like a quarter zip pullover or socks for an additional fee.

7 Jingle All the 5K/10K/1K

  • Cost: $38.75 plus $3.75 SignUp Fee | Shipping Included
  • Charity: Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • Swag: T-Shirt, Medal, Printed Bib; long sleeve shirt available at additional cost
  • Registration Ends: December 31, 2020
  • Complete the Race: Run Any Time!

Why you should run this: This look like a fun run with a Yeti theme from Medal Dash. Pick your distance and earn your swag! You can also opt for a medal and bib only package for a discounted price, and additional swag like a running cap and face mask can be purchased as add-ons.