Do you like to run?
Do you like to earn medals?
Do you dislike running in a crowd like a herd of antelope?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then maybe a virtual race is right for you.
A virtual race is a race you sign up for online, and then run on your own time. The company will send you a race packet, which will include a bib with your race number on it to wear while you run, and the medal you will earn after you finish the race. Virtual races are great for people who like to run on their own, or maybe want to run with one friend, but not with a whole race-day crowd.
I signed up for a virtual race for one reason: the medal. I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so when I saw an ad for this Goblet of Fire medal, I knew that I just HAD to have it.
Just look at it. So beautiful. The Goblet of Fire spitting out a slip of paper that you can write your own name on. A Dragon. Flames that are almost like stained glass. Really, what more could you ask for??
But signing up was the easy part. Once I received my race packet in the mail, I had to decide two things.
- I could earn my medal with a 5k, a 10k, or a half marathon. Which race would I choose?
- I could run the race on my own time. When should I run?
Since it takes me about 14 weeks of training to work up to a half marathon, and I wanted to earn and display my medal ASAP, I decided against the longer race. Instead, I chose to run the 10k, because, 1) the medal seemed like it was worth more than a 5k, and 2) I was already in the process of training for a non-virtual half marathon, so I decided to extend my already-scheduled 6-mile training run to 6.2 miles (or 10k) and call it my virtual race.
The day I decided to run my race was a cold one, so instead of running outside, I ran on the track at the gym. I packed my coat into a locker, stepped onto the track, and started the stopwatch on my phone. And then I ran. Lap after lap after lap. It’s a good thing I had an interesting podcast to listen to, because running 31 laps around a 1/5 mile track is not the most exciting thing in the world. I used the lap button on my phone’s stopwatch, not to time my laps, but to count and keep track of them… because I definitely would not have been able to keep track of all thirty-one laps myself without getting distracted.
Finally, after almost an hour of running, I was done. I had completed my 10k virtual race and earned my medal!
So, now that I’m basically an expert, let me tell you some of the pros and cons of a virtual race.
- Race on your own time. You can choose the day that works best for you to race, and you don’t even have to get up at an ungodly hour to get to the start line on time.
- No crowds. You don’t have to worry about dodging runners who slowed down right in front of you.
- Rack up medals. You’re not limited to races happening in your town, you can sign up for all the races!
- No accountability. The medal is mailed to you, rather than handed to you at the finish line. No one is making sure you actually run the race to earn the medal.
- No race day energy. Non-virtual races are always full of people cheering you on and holding up funny signs… but you have to create your own hype in a virtual race.
- No post-race free food. No one is officially organizing the race and taking care of the runners.
Honestly, the accountability thing is the biggest issue for me. If I hadn’t already been in the process of training for a half marathon, I’m not sure I could have convinced myself to train up for a virtual race. The medal was already in my hand, and I didn’t even have to cross the finish line to get it.
However, if you’re the kind of person who loves to push and challenge yourself, maybe a virtual race is perfect for you. A medal is a great incentive to make you throw on your running shoes and get outside!
Like anything else in this world, there are definitely both pros and cons to a virtual race, and it’s up to you to decide whether a virtual race is up your alley or not. I hope this blog post has helped you learn a little bit more about virtual races, so that when an ad for that amazing Harry Potter medal pops up on your social media, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into!
Be happy. Be healthy.