Has Racing Gone Virtual?

It seems as though everything to do with fitness today has gone online…Tracker Apps, daily workouts, 30 day challenges, and even full transformation programs are just a click away! What about racing? Can you really complete a 5K, Half Marathon, even a Triathlon all virtually? No finish line? No water station? Yup, even races have gone virtual!

There’s a certain exhilaration only the racing community understands. Checking each other out at package pickup, comparing running gear and individual pre-race rituals on race morning, hunting down that girl up ahead who manages to stay just a pace or two ahead of you… then we all cross the finish line, get our medals and cut bananas and cheer one another on. We’re Family now.

What first intrigued me about a virtual 5k was the medal. Yup, I’ve been racing for over fifteen years and have a stingy two finisher medals and I want more. It was a two-piece medal, one half a curl of macaroni and the other half a slice of cheese. If a friend and I race together she gets one half and I get the other. A quick text to my Sister and we were in!  Our medals would be shipped out that day and all we had to do was pick a race day, tag the company on social media with a picture of our finishing times and that was it!

As a Mom of two young kids you would think a typical race day would be like a long-awaited vacation; hours alone, time to myself, time with friends.. and yes, it is all that, but making sure meals at home are prepped, finding a race date that we actually have free as a busy family, and child care arranged (wait, maybe I’ll bring the kids to come and watch me!); race day is stressful enough without having MORE stress to worry about. Then of course there’s the post-race celebration meal- but now it’s almost noon and I should be getting home to the family. And with groceries, kids’ hockey games, and cleaning around the house, it’s not like I’m going home to rest my legs! So the fact that I could wear my race bib, gear up, run with my best friend, flaunt my medal, take a Selfie, grab a celebration coffee, re-live my race AND be home by noon seems too good to be true!

I loved it!!! I set the goal of the sub 30 min 5k and getting to race myself in my own neighbourhood on a route that I’ve ran a million times was so rewarding! And I kept that macaroni medal in its brown shipping box until I stopped my GPS so it still had the thrill of seeing the medal for the first time! And like we all do, I kept my bib on and wore my medal to the community coffee shop where I ran my race. Probably my favourite part of running this race virtually was getting to set a race goal, have the flexibility of when I race, and still get the thrill and accomplishment of running a race with the sweet swag!


Benefits of Running a Virtual Race:

  1. How often do you visit the local race calendar to go choose a race and it either doesn’t match your training plan, you are on vacation, or the date you actually have free there is no race to be found?! With a virtual race you have the same options in a race calendar but usually have a set weekend or month to complete the race. And with fun themes like cupcakes, movies, and Holidays the options are endless!
  2. Even though it may seem like you are on your own on race day who’s to say you can’t get a group of friends together and turn your weekly long run into a race? You choose your race day, route, even the number of people who register!
  3. Even though it’s flexible it is still up to you to show up on the date you set as your race day. In fact, it’s a great way to keep yourself accountable because yes, you get your medal shipped and it’s the honour system if you actually race or not but nothing beats the thrill of putting in the miles and earning that race medal.
  4. Swag! Let’s face it, we run for the swag and with race entry fees of virtual races sometimes half that of a standard race you can’t beat the swag- medals, custom bibs, T-shirts, key tags.. and of course, bragging rights.
  5. Many virtual races have added community pages on Facebook and other Social Media so once you post your Selfie and join the group, you become connected with other racers from around the world!


By Christine Kasturi

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