What do Running, Hobbits and Fighting Poverty Have in Common?


December 13, 2013
Cindy Levin

With a goal of sparking interest from new donors, the RESULTS development team took on the challenge to host a virtual charity race with a fantasy theme inspired by characters similar to those found in the J.R.R. Tolkien series, “The Lord of the Rings.” A virtual race is a physical event that can be completed at any time and any location. Participants registers online and donate money to a charity for a real medal that will be mailed later. They can run, walk, bike, use a treadmill, or even participate in real race to earn the medal.

The idea behind this virtual event came from members of our development team already participating in virtual running events themselves.  Creating a RESULTS virtual race was a fun way to tap into potential donors who had never heard of RESULTS and promote our name to philanthropist athletes looking for places to donate their dollars. We developed original medals for three distances: a 5K Dragon medal, a 10K Demon medal, and a 13.1 mile medal.

By advertising our run to online groups that promote virtual runs and social media fan groups of The Lord of the Rings, we launched our first-ever public virtual running challenge. Our facebook group called “LOTR: Loving Otherworldly Themed Races,” allowed people to share their personal race results and love of fantasy based genres while they completed their runs. 

We asked our participants why they chose to do this particular race and here is what some of them said:

Gail Fuller “My eldest sister introduced me to fantasy–first with The Chronicles of Narnia followed by The Hobbit and LOTR. When I saw the LOTR's virtual race challenge post, it triggered wonderful childhood memories. As a result, I was the first to sign up for the LOTR races. It seems fitting to run all three LOTR virtual races in my sister's memory. One down, two to go…”

Stefanie Osbahr “I did my run combining the Hobbit Hustle with the #Run3rd community, getting this awesome medal and donating money for a good cause. As a huge LOTR-Fan this one was a “Must do” for me.”

The LOTR Virtual Villain Challenge even got media coverage in Middle Earth News – an online source solely dedicated to all things Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings – and here is why they chose to run our Virtual Villain Challenge:

“For the Middle-earth News team, Arwen, Lily, Myla, and Rachel are taking up the challenge! We are all setting our own personal goals as we go for the Dragon medal (we can’t help it; it’s our favorite). While some of us may do our race all in one go, others will use it as an excuse to hit the gym more, and one of us is training up to being able to run a whole 5K without stopping or walking.”

Virtual running is often about the medal design for some and solely about the cause for others. While ours was mainly about the medals this time, we are thrilled that we brought in brand new donors to support RESULTS and had our name seen by thousands who had never heard of us before. This campaign spread awareness about what RESULTS does, gathered a following of fantasy lovers who now know about RESULTS, and got people moving – which is always good! 

So far, we have received over $2,600 in registrations. But the fun isn’t over yet! We still have a limited number of 10K Demon Medals and 13.1 mile Flaming Eye medals left. Register site at http://www.tinyurl.com/LOTRVillains for your very own shiny medal(s). If you register between December 13 and January 6, your medals will ship on January 7, 2014. Also, join our facebook group to chat with others who are earning their medals as well!

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