If you’re not already familiar with the term “virtual race”, think of it as a race stripped down to the bare essentials: a goal, a run and, of course, a medal. Unlike a traditional race event, a virtual race works around your schedule and can be run at any time of day, from any location in the world. There are no route maps, and no crowds. Just a target distance, a loose time frame and a medal delivered to your doorstep – easy!
This seems to be the number one confusion surrounding virtual races. Generally speaking, most races will require entrants to submit some kind of “evidence”. The definition of this term differs from race to race but can include anything from miles logged with a running app, to running selfies.
Many virtual races operate on an “honour system”. This means the organisers are trusting that the people, who have gone through the trouble of registering and paying, are going to do the right thing.
Now that you understand the basics, here are our top seven reasons to give virtual racing a go…
Though there’s no shame in running at the back of the pack, it is nice to be able to take things at a comfortable speed without being overtaken. Likewise, if you’re a speed demon, you’ll enjoy being able to give the race everything you’ve got without being slowed down by the crowds. In a virtual race, you are the master of your pace. So whether it’s slow and steady or fast and ready, everyone’s a winner!
When you’re first finding your feet as a runner, it can take a while to build up your confidence. During this time, it’s not uncommon for runners to feel self-conscious and keep their progress private. But this solitude can make motivation a challenge. Virtual races offer a fantastic way for new runners to stay focused and build up their miles and their confidence in a stress-free environment.
As virtual races can be run anywhere, at any time, they are a fantastic option for people who live in remote locations, people who have busy schedules and people who work irregular hours. You can run a virtual race as part of your weekly training schedule, as part of your run commute to work or on a treadmill at the gym. The boundaries of a regular race don’t apply so, as long as you’re putting in the miles and submitting your evidence, you’re earning your medal!
Race events, although exhilarating, can be very overwhelming and highly stressful for even the most seasoned athletes. Virtual races present a perfect solution for avoiding the crowds, jitters and anxiety that comes with physically attending a race event.
A term you often hear at race events is “run your own race” – in other words – don’t worry about comparing yourself to other runners and just focus on running the best race you can. A virtual race provides the perfect conditions to get focused, without being distracted by other runners’ performances.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been running for years, a little motivation can go a long way and having a goal (with an entry fee, a charity donation and a medal to keep you accountable) can really help you get up off the couch, lace up those trainers and get your runs done.
Although some consider the virtual race craze “impersonal”, the feelings of connection and of being a part of something greater than yourself are still very much alive in virtual races. This is due to the following components: fundraising, shared challenges and date-specific celebrations.
Many charities offer virtual races and, whether you are fundraising with friends or by yourself, there is an undeniable feeling of camaraderie in pounding the pavements for a good cause.
In shared challenges, you contribute to a larger goal you might never have been able to achieve alone. Perhaps the best example of this comes from “Moon Joggers”, who set up a community with the goal of running enough collective miles to reach the moon. They achieved this goal in 2013 and I can only assume they’re over the moon about it (couldn’t resist!).
Many virtual races are set up to commemorate particular events – such as our International Women’s Day or Friendship Day virtual races – these allow people all over the world to feel connected through the shared celebration of something that makes them feel good, whether that be the celebration of great women throughout history or the celebration of a good friendship. And what better way to celebrate than with a run?
Virtual Races to try…
International Friendship Day takes place 30 July, so why not celebrate the day by running as far as you can with friends? Simply run at least one mile on 30 July to claim your exclusive Friendship Day medal. Enter now for £10.
Specialising in shorter distances (5K,10K and half marathon) this US based company has a good range of races with cute and quirky bling – unfortunately you do have to pay extra for postage to the UK (rats!). Prices range from around £24-28 (including shipping).
The CALM 10K is a chance to come together in support of men who have suffered, and are still battling mental health issues. Open to men and women who’re running for a friend, simply run 10K between the 7th and 8th of October and submit your evidence, to recieve your CALM #RaceForAMate medal. £2 from every entry goes to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) a charity organisation that helps men affected by mental health issues. Enter now for £12.
This UK company has some great variety and raises money for some fantastic charities. Its race options range from 5K to 1,000 miles and prices range from £7.50 – £13.50.
How many days can you run in a row? Run at least seven days in a row this July to earn your summer running streak and claim your exclusive Sunstreaker Challenge medal. Each run can be anything from a one-mile recovery run to a 60-mile ultra marathon. As long as you record your runs and submit your evidence, showing at least a one-mile distance for each day, the Sunstreaker Challenge medal is yours. Enter now for £10.
If you’re into comic books and 80s arcade games, the flashy pop-art-inspired style and bright eye-catching medals of Pow! will be right up your alley. There’s more to the series than meets the eye, however –between 20%-100% of the profits from its races go to charity. Entry price ranges from £10 – £25.
On a scale of 1-10, how big a Harry Potter fan are you? If your answer is 9 3/4, you and this running club were made for each other. The club’s themed virtual races and medals do the franchise perfect justice and, since 2014, the club has raised $1.4 million for deserving charities. Entry costs vary from £22 – £40.
Whether you are unable to make one of our live events, or you are just looking to increase your race participation without the need for travel and expensive hotels, we have the virtual race for you! There’s some great medals up for grabs, with some fantastic causes and a range of challenges to complete. Some races even have bespoke t-shirts – the perfect way to commemorate your run! Prices range from £10-12.