I came across JOST Running whilst coveting the August bling of a fellow member of the Twitterati. It was a hot dog medal and I had to have it, no matter what, thinking it was a US race, and that I could sign up in 2014. So I looked up the @Jostrunning user referenced in the Tweet and discovered that the bling was from a virtual race.
Their website www.jostrunning.com is very simple; you can choose a race distance (5K, 10K, half or full), the medals change each month so choose a month, and then pay. On the initial viewing, and on face value, it is a way of buying medals – so a vanity site.
Now I thought about this for a while, this is a website that offers a medal for a fee ($25) with free postage. They send out the medals as soon as you pay, before you ever run. You then email in your time for the distance, when you have completed it, and they put it on the site. They do not chase you for your time though. You have therefore effectively just paid for a medal, and received free postage and packaging. It does seem very impersonal, and unpoliced. Therefore, it was basically a medal shop. But maybe that is too simplistic a view.
So, you pay a fee, you run, you get a medal, your time is posted online.  So how different is that from any other race? Thinking about it, it is not any different at all. When I run the Berlin Marathon at the end of the month, I paid a fee, I will run the distance chosen, I get a medal, and my time is posted online.

August time

Runners are the most honest people (with the exception of Kip Litton and Paul Ryan) and will not lie about distance run, times, or how they feel/did. So I do not think that people will just buy medals and not run the distance in the times they say, or in the month they paid for.

Now JostRunning do not go the extra length that I did for the @RunnersKnees #Virtual10Miler. There is no twitter update or hashtag, there are no pictures of the runners posted online. But hey, there could be hundreds of runners (my August number, taken at the end of the month was 81, the September number 22). Still, it isn’t that hard to update a website with photos, or post them on Twitter so maybe they should think of that to make the runners feel more part of a virtual race.
The medals are choice though.
 August Medal
Hot dog!

September Medal

I got the white one

And somehow…

Not that I will be there at the end, but on 9/9 I a winning

My Way or the Highway…
For me the Medals do not go on the bling rack until I have completed the distance. The September medal isn’t there yet, the August one is. I post my race time, I also send proof of my run, and post on Twitter, after all, the only person I would be cheating by lying is me. And where is the benefit in that? So I will use the medals as a motivation to get specific distances run each month, especially on quiet months where there are few races. But only if the medals are good.

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