WORLD championship marathon runner Julian Spence says the popularity in virtual running took him a little by surprise, but it made sense.
Spence is calling on people to start warming up and logging their kilometres for the annual Run for a Cause in Ballarat.
He said goals were important for many runners, or people wanting to exercise and it was still unclear when the next chance would be to get moving in a fun run.
"If you start dropping off training then running becomes all the much harder to pick up again. You need to keep out there and keep condition," Spence said.
"I have been really surprised in how many people have got into virtual events but you hear how much it has helped them through winter when event were postponed or they had no event goals."
Click on the photo below to find out how the Hutchinson family plans to get running for the cause
Run for a Cause is The Ballarat Foundation's major annual fundraiser, now in its third year.
This edition is all about picking your distance (a one-off or tally for the month), picking your place and - until Sunday - picking your entry fee.
Spence has been race director the past two years and instead will offer virtual video tips via The Ballarat Foundation to help keep people motivated and moving through November.
Up for grabs is a chance to win a coaching package with Spence in his RunStrong Online Coaching platform. Spence's stable includes Tokyo Olympic hopeful Ellie Pashley, a 10,000-metre and marathon runner, who is back in Australia after running the London Marathon earlier this month.
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Spence's coaching group started trial runs of virtual races within lockdowns and he said this proved a great motivational tool.
"It keeps that connection element in running if everyone is training at the same time for the same distance," Spence said. "It's the same no matter how fast you run, even if you're a slow runner, we all work the same."
Run for a Cause is also offering a voucher for The Running Company to the highest fundraiser.
Childhood literacy program Ballarat Reads is the cause in focus for this year's event. Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a program within Ballarat Reads, delivers children aged zero to five in Ballarat a free book every month.
Visit run4ac.org for more information and to enter.
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