2020: The year of the virtual race.
Due to COVID-19 quarantine, the race industry has developed virtual races allowing all competitors to participate from anywhere.
Imagine not standing in line for a race bib and t-shirt, not waiting at the starting line, and not running through a crowd. It is just you and the open road, or trail, or treadmill. A virtual race allows runners to compete and contribute to any race event from the comfort of their own home or neighborhood.
Virtual races offer more flexibility than traditional races. Runners can register online and run the track of their choosing at a time that suits their schedule. Once a runner has completed the race, runners can upload their time and compare with other contestants.
This concept may seem odd to traditional runners or race directors, but there are many ways to create a marathon setting for participants in a virtual race. Many virtual events will supply runners a race bib and a finisher medal, both mailed directly to the participants. The running bib can be worn in spirit of the race or kept as a souvenir.
Virtual races originated from high school track and field training. Before the days of large championship meets, high school runners would mail in their times and a winner would be declared.
Eventually virtual races made their way out of the high school platform. Participants unable to compete in-person began to ask race directors if they could participate from afar. Thus, virtual races were born.
Virtual races aren’t a replacement for the traditional competition, but an alternative for those 'race day' feelings. Typically, the cost of a virtual race is less than a traditional race experience. Competitors can save a little extra money and still participate against one another.
In 2020 virtual races have sustained the racing world. Social distancing has become the new norm; however, that doesn't mean runners need to sacrifice race day.
Sign up, select your distance, your starting point, and get out there!
Race day is still here, but now it's on your own terms.
Interested in reading more about virtual races? Read our interview with the Stronger Together Virtual 5K organizer.