If you’re a runner who likes to keep in the loop, then you’ve probably already heard of “virtual races”. But if you haven’t, or perhaps have but don’t know what it is, let me explain. Virtual races are, in the simplest terms, races that can take place anywhere, at any time and without anyone else.
Yes, these cyber runs can be completed at your nearby park or field, or around your local streets and back-alleys. Runners are now competing without the stress that comes with conventional races, and are waving goodbye to the confusing bag drops and hour-long queues for the toilet.
Virtual races enable people to race when it suits them best, and that’s why they’re growing in popularity. If your working hours are long, or your day-to-day life is pretty manic, being able to choose when and where you run is an attractive proposition – especially when there’s still a medal at the end of it.
All it takes is an online registration, via a computer or Smartphone, and the rest is simple. You sign up, you complete the distance, you prove you competed, and then you wait patiently for your shiny bling to arrive in the post. It’s simple, and a number of companies and organisations are now hosting them.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that conventional races are finished. We all know there’s nothing quite like turning up to an event and experiencing that race-day buzz. So it’s worth noting that virtual races aren’t trying to replicate or replace this, they’re just offering an alternative way to compete.
So while a lot of these races offer a unique and flexible individual racing experience, many also provide runners with the chance to raise money for charity. And, in a lot of cases, you can run, walk or jog them and don’t always have to provide proof – making the whole experience fun and easy.
Entry cost: £7.50 – £13.50
Virtual Runner UK is a good place to start your virtual running journey. Not only are the races relatively cheap to enter, but they also offer a number of varied distances – making it easy to fit one into a training schedule. They help to raise money for a wide variety of charities too, some of which are even put forward by participants.
Entry cost: £10.00 – £25.00
If bright costumes, funny names and fictitious crime-fighting is your thing, then Pow Virtual Running is for you. The comic book and 80s arcade game-inspired virtual races are always good fun, and offer some pretty cool medals to those who take part. Further more, they also donate 20% of their monthly profit to a charity. Pow!
Entry cost: £10.00 – £13.00
Like a lot of virtual races, Virtual Warrior helps raise money for a number of charities. But, unlike some organisations, this one also offers runners the chance to compete over a number of months – say hello to the ‘Warrior Series’. So, if you fancy training hard and staying fit, then this could offer the motivation you’ve been craving.
Entry cost: £22.00 – £40.00
Grab your wands, things are about to get magical – it’s time to get excited about a Harry Potter virtual race event. The Hogwarts Running Club is a fan’s dream, providing top-end race medals while raising a lot of money for a whole host of charities. Races can be expensive, but they’re worth it – earn those house points!
Entry cost: £10.00 – £12.00
It’s worth heading over to Women’s Running for a chance to get some other people involved in the virtual race fun too. The Women’s Running Virtual Runs offers a range of challenges for runners – alongside their live events – and raises funds for a number of good causes. Plus, some even include snazzy bespoke t-shirts.
Entry cost: £12.00
Yes, we also have our very own Men’s Running virtual race – the CALM 10K! Sign up and race for men who suffer from mental health issues. Open to men and women who are running for a friend, all you need to do is provide evidence of your run between 7th – 8th October. Charity Campaign Against Living Miserably receives £2.00 from each entry, so give it a go!