What are virtual races? Initially, I thought it was probably a video game where you race against other people in real-time online. But it's actually a novel idea for busy runners. Virtual races can be run anytime, anywhere, and you can run, jog, or walk until you finish.
How popular are virtual races? We did a quick google search and a mere 12,100,000 results for virtual races showed up. So it's safe to say they are very popular, and there are many reasons for that. We live in an ultra-fast society where we try and make every minute count. We're also more involved than ever with our careers, our families, and our other hobbies and activities. Some people simply can't make it out to races due to their location, their financial situation, or prior commitments.
But with the growing popularity of virtual races, people don't have to miss out. There are even some interesting twists on conventional races. A good example would be the Chase the Sun race, where runners combine to achieve a distance that is equal to the amount it would take to run to the sun!
Many of the virtual races do have entry fees, which cover the medals or other prizes they give away, and many of them donate a portion of those fees to charity! Virtual World Racers host a virtual race across a new country each month. When you finish a race, you get a custom medal of that country sent to you and 10% of every race registration is donated to Pencils of Promise, which help communities build new schools.
If you're still reading, your interest has probably been piqued. Here are a few links where you can learn more and also sign up to compete in virtual races!
There are even apps to help you race against people from all over the world! The Runr app allows you to compete in real time against people and even gives you audio and video updates about your standings while you're running! Then after each race, you can review your results, and you can earn more than 25 different achievements, and compete for spots on different leaderboards. Strava is another site dedicated to connecting runners from around the globe, billing itself as "The social network for those who strive."
Virtual races are great because they offer more opportunities for runners to compete, and they are raising money for great causes too. There's always a race to run virtual races!