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Can you pause your watch during a virtual race?

We think the answer is no, and here's why

Fall virtual marathon season is upon us, and it’s (obviously) a season unlike any other. With virtual racing has come some new rules, and one of the big questions that runners have about their new normal is: can you pause your watch during your virtual race? While we can see compelling arguments on either side, we’re inclined to say no. Here’s why.

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You could never do that on race day

Lots of runners are racing virtually to get the feeling of race day back – the jitters and anticipation that we all miss about a mass start line. The watch doesn’t stop on race day, so the watch can’t stop virtually either. Even if things are going sideways, persevering will feel better in the end than taking a break. (Note: stop the watch if you think you’re injured. Persevering won’t feel better in this case). 

Virtual racing should be as fair as possible 

In order to make virtual running equitable, runners should try to play fair. While courses will vary in terms of elevation gain and the weather will always play a role, what shouldn’t change is that everyone is running the agreed-upon distance in one go. By the end of your race, elapsed time (time passed since you started your watch) and active time (time your watch was actually running) should be the same – especially when there are prizes involved. 

Photo: Bob Martin for The INEOS 1:59 Challenge

If you need to pause your watch, call it a hard run and not a race

If something goes sideways on race day and you’ve had to stop for some reason, we feel for you, but this is now a hard run and no longer a race. Feel free to post, but let people know that you took a break. The beauty of virtual racing is that if your chosen race day doesn’t go to plan, you’ve probably got a big enough window that you can try again a few weeks later. So call that watch-pause effort a training run and save your legs for a (hopefully) better race day. 

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