It's a question we get asked all the time. Actually it's usually said more like...
"What the heck is a virtual race?!"
"Why would I sign up for a 'virtual race' when I could run around my neighborhood on my own?"
We get it. Seems like a weird concept. But I think once you see what makes virtual races awesome you'll catch the vision. So we go. My ode to virtual races.
14 reasons we think you'll enjoy virtual races
1. Run whenever you want
Traditional races require you to be there on the day they designate. But what if you've got a schedule conflict? There's always some wedding to attend or some family member that needs help moving. With a virtual race, you pick the day. Not feeling it today? Maybe tomorrow! YOU pick the best day.
2. Run wherever you want
Traditional races require you to run the path they've designated. But what if it's not particularly scenic? Or what if it's a TON of uphill and you're not sure you can handle it? With a virtual race, you pick the path. Do it in your neighborhood or pick a local park. It's up to you.
3. Run as far as you want
A virtual race lets you pick the distance you're most comfortable with. Maybe you're just getting in to running and running a 5K seems intimidating. Or maybe you've run a few 5Ks and you're ready to level up to a 10K or even a half marathon. Virtual races let you pick the distance that's right for your situation.
4. Do it HOWever you want
Hate running? That's actually totally fine. You're welcome to walk, jog, hike, bike, swim, etc. Just get it done!
5. Nobody's judging you
If you've ever run a traditional race sometimes it can feel like other people are judging you. (Am I slouching? Do I stomp my feet too loudly?) When you run a virtual race you just focus on doing your best without worrying that Jerry the Jock is irritated that he has to go around me.
6. Pay what you want
Let's face it... races can be expensive. On top of the registration fee you've often got to pay for a shirt, parking, food while you're there, maybe a hotel? Every so often that's totally fine but not always necessary.
Virtual races offer a bit more flexibility. Want a shirt but don't care about a bib? No problem. No need for either but you definitely want a medal? Done. Pick whatever combination appeals to you.
7. No driving/parking issues
I'll deal with crazy parking lots for an Imagine Dragons concert. For a race? Meh. When you're running on your terms you don't need to deal with that.
8. No need to pay for a hotel/meals/etc.
If you're in the mood to combine your vacation with a race that's great. There are some great events out there for that. But you probably don't have the budget to do that a dozen times a year. Running where you are helps you save big bucks on hotels, meals, gas, etc.
9. Run with family members. Even a stroller.
We think running is something the whole family should get into. Virtual races let you get your kids involved and gives them a little taste of the traditional race experience. And if they're not really into the whole physical fitness thing... sometimes a medal is just what they need to keep them pushing forward.
10. No need to wake up before the sun
Lots of traditional races start before sunrise which means you're waking up at 4:15 to get there on time. Dang. No need for that with a virtual race. Don't feel like running until 10am (or maybe 10pm)? Perfect. Do it.
11. Not limited to road or trail running. Do whichever you prefer. Or both!
You should be able to run where the heck you wanna run. That includes running on roads, trails, beaches, gravel, ice, whatever. Don't run a trail race just because you think you have to in order to get a medal!
12. No fighting over porta-potties
Maybe I should've put this at the top of the list. Those porta-potty lines are ridiculous. When you've gotta poop, you've gotta poop!
13. No time limits
We get it. You can't keep roads closed for a whole day which is why most races limit you to a couple of hours to complete the course. Here's the thing though, that just might not work well for everyone. We think you should be able to take just as much time as you need. Need to split that 10K into a few days? Do it!
14. Run with your real friends, no matter where they live
Virtual races let you have a shared experience with your friends or family members even if you're not in exactly the same place. Plan on starting at the same time. Maybe Facetime each other along the way to give a little encouragement. Just because you're not together physically doesn't mean you can't celebrate your wins together.
So there you have it, 14 reasons why you just might want to consider running a virtual race. We think they're pretty darn cool and we think you'll enjoy them too. Give one a shot and tell us what you think below.