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Virtual Races: A Good Alternative for 2020

By now I would safely bet that almost every runner who has registered for one of their favorite races in 2020 has gotten the news that it has either cancelled, been postponed, or moved to a virtual race. I try to run several races per month and I have received email after email from race directors making the sad announcement that their race has had to switch to the virtual option. And while everything in me hopes that these races are able to happen in 2021, the truth is that we just have no way of knowing what next year is going to look like.

Hospital Hill Virtual Run

Before I even heard the words, corona virus, virtual races were not something that I had ever considered. I had done one or two because I really loved the medal, shirt, or other swag that was offered, but never counted these toward my “official count” of races completed. In my mind they just were not “real races” and I was basically purchasing the swag and getting a training run in. Now I have a much different view on virtual races. The whole world has had to change what “normal” is over the past several months. From how we work, how kids learn, and wearing masks in public, things sure look different. And running and races were not immune to these changes. I know that if we could, we would all choose to get back to running races in person ASAP, but until that time comes, here are MY top reasons for choosing a virtual race!

Virtual Illinois Half Marathon
  • These races often give back! Most live races that have had to make the tough decision to go virtual this year were supporting a charity or foundation through their live event. The opportunity to hold these events VIRTUALLY gives the race directors the opportunity to continue to support the causes and charities that the live event would have supported.
    Other virtual events are organized with the intention of supporting a certain cause. You can search a cause and virtual race and find a race that will allow you to support just about any cause that is important to you.
  • Facebook groups/SM support: Joining a virtual challenge or choosing the virtual option of a large live race usually will give you access to a Facebook group of other people who are completing the same race or challenge virtually. Nothing is more motivating than seeing posts from others that are out there, with positive attitudes, getting it done! Just seeing a few posts in this group will want you to get your miles completed as well!
  • The SWAG! Switching to the virtual option of a race means you can still earn that swag that you have been drooling over (oh that’s just me?) since you registered for the race!
    There are also some new virtual races and challenges that are coming from the changes the country in facing and some of these have really upped their swag game! Check out my Insta/TW @lish_loves_life for some of these races and challenges!
  • Allows you to set a goal! I don’t know about you but I stay more motivated and consistent in my runs and workouts when I have a goal! Having races on my calendar, even if they are virtual, keep me motivated! I still want to share that post race pic and race experience and treating virtual races just like a live race allows me to have just as much fun!
  • Allows you to explore new places…..wait what? So yes, a virtual run can be run anywhere, within a specific race timeline. After taking part in several virtual runs already in 2020, I decided that I needed to find new places to explore on my runs. So I have found places to run in other towns and have a list of other towns to try as well. Use these virtual races as a way to explore places close to home that you haven’t seen before or would like to see again!
Virtual Flying Pig Marathon

As you can see, I believe that there are a lot of benefits in taking part in a virtual race! Next time you are looking at your empty race calendar for the rest of 2020 or another email from a race director informing you of your options because they can no longer hold the race as a live event, consider a virtual option. There is so much to gain from a virtual race and you will be just as proud showing off that race bling on #medalmonday!!

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