Virtual Running: When Your In-Person 5k or Marathon Gets Cancelled

How to Do a Virtual Race + The Benefits

Your big goal race just changed to virtual. Now what?

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives. Including those spring and summer races we signed up for. We were so hopeful this winter! We dreamed of finishing a big goal race or maybe even a PR! Now we’re facing a new state of things and most races have been canceled, postponed, or changed to virtual.

What is a virtual race? 

It’s a way to honor all of the hard work and training you already put in. The race organizers choose a window of time for the race to be ‘open’. For example: Monday at 5:00am through Sunday at 10:00pm. You get to run the same distance as the race you signed up for anytime you want in that window.

How does it work? 

If your race changed to virtual, there will be directions sent out to all who registered. The virtual race directions will tell you how to get recognition for your race. Most require you to track your run with GPS and either upload it or tag the race in a social media post. Most races will then send you your finisher swag! 

What if you don’t have a fancy GPS watch? 

No worries!  There are loads of free phone apps like MapMyRun and Strava that will record your run for you. Download the app before race day and try it out on a walk or a short run. Make sure you know how to use it before race day.

Is it normal to feel disappointed? 

Totally! We’re all adapting to change right now. Your race event coordinators were so excited to have you race too! They’re as bummed as you are that everything is different. Support them and honor your hard work by participating any way you can. And think about the perks of virtual racing!

What are the benefits of virtual racing? 

You pick the day, you pick the time, you pick the route. It’s a race designed for you! Need water? Ask a friend or drop bottles along your route before your run. Need a crowd? Recruit your people to yell and scream for you at designated points. Need a bathroom? Start at a location with a bathroom and build a ‘clover leaf’ route that loops back to your starting point multiple times. You’ll have anything you might need ready and waiting for you without needing to finish your whole race. Potty, food, water, a change of clothes!

You got this!

So it’s not what you signed up for. No big deal! You’re in charge now. Pick your choice of days, your best time of the day to run, the best weather for you, the best route for you. You could cut out all the hills! You could wear a totally mismatched outfit combining all of your favorite gear! You could even make your own finish line and break your own tape! Dream up your perfect race and make it happen 🙂 You’ve worked hard for this, now finish it off. You got this.