Virtual races are not new to the runners. It’s been around for the better part of the decade. But the race is trending more since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic and the subsequent lock-down have forced people to look for virtual alternatives in almost all aspects of life.
The running community has also been impacted. With the races being canceled across the globe, Virtual race is becoming the new normal.
Even the prestigious Comrades Ultra Marathon one of the oldest events organized in South Africa was held as a virtual race this year.
Quick Fact: Astronaut Sunita Williams, ran the Boston marathon in the year 2007 when she was at the International space station, around 210 miles above the Earth.
What is a virtual race?
Your race might have canceled, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect medals
The concept of a virtual race is pretty simple. Participants select a distance, register, and pay a nominal fee.
Participants can complete the distance at any time, and they get a medal and an e-certificate for completing the run.
Benefits of the virtual race
1. Offers flexibility
The best part of the virtual race is that it provides flexibility. You can run anytime during the day at your convenience. You can also choose your starting line, whether it’s a treadmill or a nearby street/park.
And yes, if you are in a place like Mumbai or Bangalore, it also saves close to 1.5-2 hours of your traveling time.
2. No logistics issues
No parking problems. Zero crowd. No queue on baggage counters. And yes, no long potty lines also.
3. You compete against yourself
The main motto of the virtual race is to develop the habit of running amongst non-runners.
It motivates the first-time runners to recognize the unknown territory by competing against themselves at their own pace.
You should sign up for the virtual race if you are a first-time runner
If you are a first-time runner, it is a great way to start your fitness journey and build your confidence. Even if you sign up for a 2 km or a 5 km race, it would worth starting.
4. Physical Fitness
According to the research conducted by the University at Buffalo, New York, the lock-downs implemented across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted diet, sleep, and physical activity among children with obesity.
The new norm work from home timings has also impacted the health of office-goers due to average sitting laptop time of 10+ hours.
So, signing up for these virtual races will be a step towards physical fitness. Esp. for the people who cannot get time for fitness due to their busy weekday schedules.
“Now, with addition to work from home, now you can also run at home”
5. Flaunting your medal
And it’s done…Your next social media post!
All smiles and you can flaunt your medal and share your moments with your friends and families.
Like any traditional race, runners will also be presented with a finisher’s medal after posting their completion time online.
6. Social Cause/Charity
Many virtual races serve as an excellent fundraising platform. The funds collected through these events are normally used for a social cause or charity purpose. That way you also contribute a bit towards the society.
There are several free virtual events organized across India. Some of them even offer free medals as well, like the one which I ran in April organized by Satara Runners Foundation.
Also, there are running groups who organize virtual races like the Winter Challenge race organized by Kalyan Dombivli Runners, Nav Run organized by Mumbai Road Runners, etc. The races are normally free, or you will be charged a nominal fee for signing up.
These races help to transform a non-runner into a runner and help in developing the habit of fitness.
Upcoming Virtual Races
As the countries enter the Unlock phase and with Govt. relaxing restrictions, the runners are finally hitting the road and running in the open and participating in virtual races. However, proper precautions must be taken for safe outdoor workouts during Covid-19.
Here is the list of few upcoming virtual races for you, to take up running as a habit and stay fit. Registration links below:
- Sardar Patel Unity ULTRA Duathlon: 17th October, 2020 – 31st October, 2020
- Amsterdam Virtual Marathon (Free Entry): 18th October, 2020
- Barcelona Virtual Marathon (Free Entry): 25th October, 2020
- Virtual Auckland Marathon (Free Entry): 31st October, 2020
- KDR RISE Winter Challenge: 1st October, 2020 to 15th January, 2021
Virtual races may not give you the feeling of traditional runs, but it will always help you to keep you motivated in your fitness journey.
As famously quoted by the great American novelist Mark Twain –
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
For me, virtual running is not a replacement for the traditional race but an adding practice, until we resume real racing.
Thank You for reading it through. I hope, I would have been able to motivate you for signing up your first or next virtual race.
If yes, do register for the same from the above-shared links. Will keep on updating the same as and when a new race comes up.
Also, if you are aware of any upcoming popular virtual race event which is not listed here, please let us know in the comment box. We will add that to our list of upcoming virtual races.
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