2020 has been a tough year for races. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Canada, many of us were forced to rip up our carefully planned schedules and abandon racing altogether. Gradually, however, a new type of event began to emerge: virtual racing. These events still offer swag bags, race shirts, and finisher’s medals. The only thing missing is the event itself. Despite this, virtual racing still has a lot to offer, and there are many good reasons why you should consider registering.
Motivation. Let’s face it – forcing yourself to complete a hard interval session or a long run without a goal race to look forward to is tough. Signing up for a virtual race can give you a goal to help you stay on track with your training.
Support a local race director. This has been a tough year for race organizations. If you want to see some of your favourite races back in the future, the best thing you can do is support them now.
Support a good cause. Many virtual events have charity partners to whom you donate, or who benefit from a portion of the registration cost. In a year like this, supporting local organizations that are helping the less-fortunate is more important than ever.
The 416 Run Challenge allows you to give back to three Toronto-area charities.
Engage with the running community. This year many of us are feeling disconnected from our friends, families, and communities. Participating in a virtual race can re-connect you with the local, national, or even global running community in a unique and fun way.
How to make virtual racing fun
Of course, with a virtual race you’re missing the energy of the crowd and the excitement of race day. Going out and running that half-marathon alone, by contrast, may seem more like torture than fun. Here’s a few tips to make the most of your virtual race day:
Set up socially-distanced cheer squads. Ask your friends and family who live nearby to set up cheer squads along your route. Having some friendly faces stationed along the course will help get you to the finish line (because no, you can’t pause your watch during a virtual race).
Plan a good route. It’s your race, so have fun with it! Maybe you plan your route to go past your favourite local spots, or to run by all your friends’ houses. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s enjoyable and safe.
Challenge your friends. Get your other running buddies to sign up with you and start your own little competition. Alternatively, get them to join you for a virtual challenge like Canada Running Series’s Camp KM.
Do it as a relay. Many virtual races are offering a relay option for their events. Running a solo marathon isn’t your thing? Sign up with three friends to run a four-person marathon relay instead.
Plan a virtual after party. Have everyone grab their favourite post-race snack or beverage and hop on a Zoom call, because after all, what’s a good race without a good after-party?