Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Chambers.
Shawn, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started by organizing monthly group runs at Road Runner Sports Tempe, to earn virtual race medals and have fun. Virtual races are online charity runs, where you run on your own or as a group and earn a medal for participating, while part of the proceeds go to charity. Collecting race medals is highly addictive and keeps you very active! That was the beginning of, “AZ Virtual Running.”
There were about 30 runners at our first event back in 2013. After the race, we provided popsicles and held a small raffle to reward participants. We were manually recording times on a clipboard back then. Over time word got out and our popularity grew. In our second year, we started producing our own race medals to cut costs. We eventually re-named our company, “Run Your Race”. This was to alleviate the pressure on new runners of racing against others and better promote what we were doing. The term, virtual running was confusing to many people. Our mission became, “To promote a healthy lifestyle, encourage new runners and raise money for charity with each monthly race.” To this day, all our events can be done live or virtually, it’s your choice!
We’ve supported many charities over the years to include many veteran and civilian causes. Our annual 22 too many races raised over $10,000 one year. We may be small, but we are mighty with our efforts! This year, our “Night Mare Series”, to benefit the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, brought in over 350 runners to each of the three races! Not only did we provide a nice donation for the charity, but we were able to finally put a down payment on a used truck to support our events! None of this would be possible without the support of the running community! They are what enable us to do such great things and we cannot thank them enough!
Our Facebook page, “Run Your Race AZ” is where you can stay in touch with our efforts and find race photos. To sign up for a race, visit our web site RunYourRaceAZ.com.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our journey has been filled with constant struggle and setbacks. Several times we’ve lost our racecourse and were forced to find a new location. City permits and park rentals can be very expensive for smaller races if they are even approved at all! Not everyone can attract 500+ runners to their events to spread out the permit and insurance costs.
Transportation was a problem for many years. My family and I were hauling our race equipment in 3 cars to events. We developed a small, compact operation, but it was difficult to manage without a truck. Many remember the days when we checked racers into races out of the trunk of my car.
Race timing services can also be very expensive too. We manually timed races with an iPad for a few years, before I finally built a chip timing system. This enabled us to host larger races and night events, where spotting bib numbers at the finish was automated by the chip reader. Imagine large groups of runners crossing the finish and trying to record all those bib numbers. It’s almost impossible but our timekeeper Lisa Meyer did it for a very long time!
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Many tell us that we are their first 5K race and they love the supportive environment we provide. Free raffle prizes, age group awards and cute medals keep them coming back for more! We take great pride in knowing we are serving both charities and the community with our work!
Team Red, White and Blue is one of the main veteran charities we support. Since joining the team, my life has been enriched greatly! They taught me the meaning of the word, “Veteran” and provided me with many opportunities to lead and serve others. We strive to give back by volunteering at events like Ironman Arizona and donating back to the team.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I loved drawing, riding and customizing motorcycles and making things with my hands. Team sports never interested me much, but I liked running. My parents divorced when I was a teen, so I rebelled and got into trouble. Left high school early to join the Marines and finished my education. Serving over four years honorably, during peacetime and with no transferable job skill, it was difficult finding my passion in life after that. I struggling to support a family and my first marriage eventually fell apart. Like many others in the 80’s, I turned to drugs for a year and lost everything.
It was when I met Deborah, my life turned around. We relocated and started over with her family’s support. Dedicating myself to working hard, I created an Auto Detailing business with my brother Jeff, that lasted for four years! Leaving it all behind I enrolled at DeVry, to learn business but then switched to computers. My wife and I supported each other as we both took turns earning a BA in Computer Information Systems. Eventually spending 18 years in Information Technology at Arizona Federal Credit Union, before leaving the corporate world to start my own racing company.
- Races are generally $25 for early registration.
- Address: 3331 N 25th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85016
- Website: http://RunYourRaceAZ.com
- Phone: 602 722-6503
- Email: Shawn@RunYourRaceAZ.com
- Instagram: runyourraceaz
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RunYourRaceAZ
- Twitter: @runyourraceaz
- Other: http://azvr.org
Amanda and Daniel Fonseca