Virtual Races – Worth It?

Virtual races seem to be all the rage lately.  What is a virtual race?  Simply put, it is an event where you can participate from wherever you are.  On the day of the race (or weekend, or week, or however long the organizers give you), you go out, run the distance, and (usually) report back on your results.

Well, that sounds like the training I do all the time.  The difference with a virtual race is that there is often swag involved.  Medals are the most popular swag, but some races have t-shirts, race bibs, and other items for those who sign up.

So obviously, a virtual race with swag isn’t free.  Frequently, there is a charitable aspect to the races as well.  Sign up and a portion of your entry fee will go to charity.  I’m all about fun fundraising ideas, so this is a great one.

But virtual races get a lot of negative comments in the running community.  Some people claim it’s not a real race.  And it’s not a traditional road race, that’s true, but that doesn’t make it any less of a race.  Can people cheat?  Sure.  Can they sign up and get the medal and never run?  They can do that too.  But that’s not the point.

Virtual races are a great way for many people to motivate themselves to run.  Not everyone enjoys the traditional road race.  I know plenty of slower runners who find races intimidating, and prefer to participate in virtual races only.  (I wish they weren’t so intimidated, but I’m glad they have an outlet for their running.)  Some people like the flexibility of virtual races.  If you work weekends, you might not be able to run the local 5K, but you can do a virtual 5K on your Tuesday off.

One virtual race series with some pretty sweet medals is the Hogwarts Running Club.  Seriously, check out that bling!  I already spend enough money on races, so I’ve not done one of their virtual races, but if you’re a medal person, this looks like a great group to be in.  (I hear their community support is also pretty sweet.)

A screenshot from the Zombies Run race. Yes, I was listening to a cast recording while running.

Over the weekend, I did the Zombies Run Spring 2017 Virtual Race.  For me, the pull wasn’t the bling, but rather the story that comes with the race.  I really like the app, and having gotten to try out the previous virtual races for free as part of their 5 year anniversary celebration, I wanted to give this one a try.  I also have been using and enjoying the Zombies Run app since it was first released, and by paying for a race, I could make a small financial contribution as a thanks.  I really loved all the hype that comes with the race.  There are two training missions that are released prior to the race, so you get some lead-up to the story.  It definitely builds the excitement and the race made my weekend training run a lot more enjoyable.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to be doing a ton of virtual races.  I’m already spending enough money on racing as it is!  But if you’re looking for some added motivation, check out some virtual races and get running.

 

2 thoughts on “Virtual Races – Worth It?

  1. I just joined this year, but I love Hogwarts Running Club so much! The medals are awesome, but if people don’t want to (or can’t) spend money on the virtual races, there is still an amazing community to help keep everyone active and motivated.

    There is also a house cup competition that goes on for the year. One of the ways that you can earn house points is based off of miles accumulated with the Charity Miles app, so people can still raise money for charity without spending any of their own.

  2. I’ve done a couple virtual races over the years – but mainly for “special occasion” races (things like the 11.11.11 race in 2011, or the National Park Service anniversary 5K) – it’s not a type of race I’ll do a lot because like you, there’s only so much $$$ I can spend on racing. So even though I’m a bit of a medal wh@re, it’s got to be a REALLY great medal or really great cause for me to sign up for a virutal.

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