Updated: Apr 8, 2021
The definition of a Virtual Race is a race you can run at any location, at your own pace, outdoors or on a treadmill, alone or with a group of friends.
Virtual racing has evolved so much in the last few months that even race organizers are struggling to keep up with the new trends. Alongside the more traditional virtual distances, such as 5K, 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon, a new concept is gaining traction among the community of runners and walkers; "Virtual Challenges".
While a virtual race will normally take place all at once during a given window of time (e.g. The Malibu VRTL Half Marathon & 5K presented by Rusnak BMW, which will take place between the 7th and 8th November), a challenge has a much more ambitious goal and can be achieved by logging multiple activities during a longer period of time (e.g. The Malibu VRTL 50-Mile Challenge presented by Rusnak BMW, which can be accomplished in 30-days).
This is why understanding how you can benefit from a virtual race or a virtual challenge can help you find the perfect event for you. Whether it is the swag, finding some much needed motivation, connecting with a community of like minded individuals or investing in your fitness and health, we have you covered!
1. Setting a goal in your life creates a positive ripple effect
The current coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is possibly the biggest test most of us have ever had to face, but this doesn't mean that you need to give up on your fitness goals at the expense of your mental health. The struggle is real, stay at home orders and safe distancing regulations have impacted our way of living, socializing, working, exercising, staying productive and motivated, and even relaxing in your own home. Learning to find our spaces again and defining a new healthy-balance for yourself is instrumental to your wellbeing.
Committing to a virtual event or challenge means setting a goal to work for and look forward to. It requires you to follow a training schedule for weeks leading up to the race day or to complete the challenge and will soon create patterns for good habits. It can help you find the right motivation to start moving again and boost your levels of endorphins. In fact, virtual events provide two essential elements for effective behavioral change: incentives and accountability.
2. Running can boost your immune system
It's common knowledge that moderate-intensity physical activity can help boost your immune system, and while the current pandemic has turned our regular schedules upside down, we as runners have an advantage in terms of our preferred form of exercise.
While many gyms are closed due to concerns about COVID-19, going for a quick run in your neighborhood is a safe and effective way to maintain your fitness and experience the outdoors. For those who are not under mandated in-home quarantine, getting outside for a quick run may actually be one of the best things you can do for your health, as long as you maintain proper safety measures to ensure social distancing protocols.
3. WHENEVER & WHEREVER: you're the boss
There's no replacement for an-in-person event where we can share a memorable experience with the people we love, and sometimes even with complete strangers. But until it is safe to do so again, why not take racing to a whole new level of convenience.
Running a virtual event means that you can decide whenever (during the time window allowed by the race organizers) and most importantly, wherever you want. This year you can scratch off your list the miles you would have had to travel to get to your race (and possibly the expo prior to that), gas money, the hustle to have had to wake up at 3:30 AM to get to the start line on time, the worry to have had eaten something that could have upset your stomach and ruin your entire race, and finally the option to pick your favorite route and possibly even set a PR (Personal Record) for yourself!
4. race swag & commemorative medals
Virtual Races provide a great sense of accomplishment along with some bling and great swag to prove and commemorate the event. Some medals, bibs and race shirts can be so beautiful that they deserve to be displayed in your house.
There are great ways to organize and display your accomplishment. We've seen it all; curtain rods, medal displays, display boxes, or just "everywhere in the house", you name it! Every event is different, and here at the Run Malibu HQ we've gone "all in" to create the best Medal & Swag to date. Take a peak.
5. YOU'Re NOT ALONE: join the COMMUNITY of runners and walkers
There is a big active community in virtual running and walking especially thanks to social media (facebook groups, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snap Chat, you name it!). Signing up for a virtual event means gaining access to an entire community of virtual runners and walkers that support each other and who will accompany you throughout your training and racing experience. A common goal can be a strong tie that brings people together, creates long lasting friendships and keeps the group accountable and motivated.
Even when you're looking for a "solo" experience you can still feel that sense of identity and belonging to a community when you go outside and see that sidewalks are full of responsible social distancing runners and walkers, and it is really great to see people being motivated to move.
6. keep supporting your favorite road races & their Charity partners
Deciding to run a virtual event can also be a way to support your favorite road races during a difficult time. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced events world-wide, including running events, to seriously consider the safety and ethical implications of hosting an event where 1000s of people gather in close proximity to each other, opting for a safer options such as a virtual event, is a way to invest in both yourself and the longevity of the event itself.
Most events have Charity Partners that, now more than ever, need our support. COVID-19 has meant little or no public fundraising activity for charities and NGOs around the globe and they are struggling to keep delivering services. Together we still have the power to make a difference.
7. AFFORDABLE & VERSATILE
You might be happily surprised to discover how much more affordable virtual race entry fees are. Additionally, committing to a bigger goal to be achieved overtime like a "Virtual Challenge", can keep you motivated and on track for months and can be a perfect substitute to gym fees, personal training and app subscriptions.
Additionally, registration fees for in-person events are usually non-refundable. Race can be cancelled due to bad weather, unpredictable adversities and, this year, due a pandemic. Fortunately, virtual races can be completed anytime, anywhere, without the risk of cancellation—jackpot!
8. puts the focus back on what we can do
It's easy to feel disappointed and let down when you see that your favorite road race has been cancelled or when we can't train in our favorite gym anymore. However this is the time to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead of us and celebrate still having the chance to live the outdoors and challenge ourselves.
The world of virtual races has been flourishing since the pandemic and event organizers are becoming more creative and resourceful. Sponsors play a key role in enhancing the participants experience by providing offers, discounts, giveaways and prizes to virtual participants. Fitness trainers and coaches are partnering up with virtual events and challenges to support participants in their journey to achieve their goal and even exceed them.
When you choose an event make sure you're getting all the above, and more. Good luck!