Run Down Under launches virtual running craze for 2016
Gold Coast, Australia: A virtual running craze is sweeping the online world and it's providing a new and unique fitness challenge for individuals and groups around Australia and the world.
It's called Run Down Under - an online and virtual fun run around Australia - which Race Director Travis Ireland says "enables people to run or walk when they want, where they want and how they want".
Run Down Under has just been launched for 2016 with people and teams able to sign up as members to commence a virtual journey around Australia.
The challenge is for individuals and teams to see how far they can run in a calendar year and ultimately continue their progress to complete a 14,080km virtual course around Australia.
Ireland said Run Down Under has proven to be a great way for people to stay committed to their health and fitness goals for a full year.
"Many of us set goals around health and fitness as our New Year's resolutions, and Run Down Under provides a platform to motivate people and keep them committed to their goals," said Ireland.
"The traditional fun run comes and goes on one day, whereas Run Down Under is a continuous fun run until you complete the journey around the beautiful country of Australia.
"All members need is the will and somewhere to run ... it's as easy as that ... we do the rest."
Members can record the distance of each run or walk they undertake through a variety of means - GPS watch, smartphone, treadmill screen, other race results and Strava - and submit this on the Run Down Under website.
Each member can then track their journey around Australia on a virtual map and also their ranking against all other members on a live scoreboard.
There is also a Clubs Challenge for running clubs, sporting teams and social training groups; and a Corporate Teams Challenge for offices and workplaces.
"There is a challenge for both individuals and groups in Run Down Under," said Ireland.
"It can also be an opportunity for clubs and corporate teams to fundraise through the year as we provide some financial incentives based on group size.
"And it's a great way to virtually explore Australia and learn about this great country as members pass through more than 60 different towns and cities on their way to the finish line."
Recently Run Down Under celebrated its first ever finisher of the 14,080km journey around Australia.
Stephen Wright, a 51-year-old father of four from the Gold Coast, completed Run Down Under on 31 October this year after starting on 1 January 2014 when it was launched.
"I love the idea of thousands of people making their way around Australia, working towards their own personal goal to reach their own finish line at 14,080km," said Wright.
"I don't class myself as a great runner - just someone who loves running and all the benefits it can bring.
"With my lifestyle and commitments, I can't run around Australia in a normal sense. But I can virtually, just by running where I live and work.
"Run Down Under is a super way to motivate people and now I want to do it all over again."
As Ireland prepares for an influx of new members to take on this challenge for 2016, he provides this simple summary of Run Down Under.
"You can run anywhere, anytime on your own journey. It's the running challenge of the future."
Entries are now open for the next instalment of Run Down Under to commence on 1 January 2016.
Visit www.rundownunder.com.au for more information and to register.