There are many things to consider when selecting a virtual race. We will also explore how to participate in a virtual race, and why you should participate in a virtual race.
Virtual races are events that you can participate in virtually. This means that you can usually participate when you want, where you want, and at the pace you want. There are many limitations with in-person events that can make it difficult to participate in. Virtual races are the most flexible events, but each virtual race has its own set of rules and own version of what is included with your registration.
There are many benefits of virtual races that make this an attractive option for participants. You don't have to travel to a specific destination to participate. Most virtual races let you run on whatever day you choose, which allows you to pick a day that has great weather, and works best with how your training is going. You can participate at whatever time of day you want, instead of getting to a race starting line super early in the morning. Virtual races usually cost less on average than an in-person event. You can usually see your race medal and shirt well before making a purchase (most in person events you sign up for the race before knowing what the medal or shirt look like).
If you are doing a virtual race that is hosted by Race Entry, you will have an opportunity to post your own photos on the race results page instead of whatever images (or lack thereof) that the event chooses to post of you. You can avoid the crowds of an in person event with a virtual race, and that means no long lines for the porta-potties, and no trouble finding parking. Since you can choose your own course, you can pick the hardest or easiest course imaginable (whatever you are looking for).
Consider reading virtual race reviews from other runners. There are thousands of virtual races to participate in, and in many instances people have written a review about the virtual race. These reviews can give you insight into the quality of the medals and shirts. The virtual race reviews may even go into the speed at which the items were delivered. There are many things that can be discovered from reading virtual race reviews.
When selecting a virtual race the three main things to look into are:
1. What is the cause if there is one?
2. What are the inclusions (the swag)?
3. What is the theme if any?
Many virtual races have a cause around the race, and since there are thousands of virtual races, it is highly likely that you can find one that supports a cause you are passionate about. Maybe there is more than one cause you want to support. Whatever cause you choose to support running with a cause can give more meaning and purpose to your experience. Here is a great example of a virtual race company that has many charitable causes you can support: https://www.virtualrunevents.com/charities/
Many virtual race participants are looking for the most interesting looking medals and shirts. Other virtual race participants may be looking for the largest medals that they can find. Whether you care more about design or size there are thousands of different sizes, shapes, and designs for medals. There are also a wide range of shirt materials and designs. Before you sign up for a virtual race, you may want to learn about what you specifically receive and how fast they will deliver those items to you.
There are many different virtual race companies, and they all offer different experiences. Some virtual races are simply an event that use to be an in-person event that was forced to become virtual due to a pandemic, or other event cancellation reasons. Other virtual races are put on by companies that exclusively focus on bringing you virtual race experiences. One example of a virtual race company is Moon Joggers. They have their participants collectively rack up miles to get around different space locations like the moon, or Mars. Other companies may focus more on a competitive spirit, instead of a collective spirit. One such company is Virtual Race Rivals. Virtual Race Rivals has races that pit two categories against each other, like cat fans against dog fans, and whichever group of fans wins a specified charity relating to that group will get the donation money. There are so many different types of virtual race themes ranging from holidays, to even silly stuff like Pirate Day. Whatever you are passionate about, there is probably a virtual race around it.
Each virtual race is different. For example if there is a Thanksgiving virtual race, they may choose to let you run any day in November, or they may require you to run on Thanksgiving Day. While each virtual race has different rules, they share a lot in common. Most virtual races will have you choose when you will run (whether you can choose the day, or just the time of day), and you usually will run with either a GPS watch, or a runner tracking app. Some virtual races will even let you run on your treadmill, as long as you submit a photo of your treadmill distance and time. Some virtual races require you to submit your time with a GPX file, while others allow you to just type your time in an online submission form, and some don't even bother with online race results. Make sure that before you sign up you know what is required for the virtual race you are thinking of doing. While virtual events are the most flexible, it doesn't mean they are all with completely open-ended flexibility.
Unlike an in-person event, you are the person in charge of most event components. For example, you get to choose the time of day, and the course that you run on (in most instances). You are responsible to make sure that you stay hydrated, so either hide some water bottles, or enlist some friends to meet you along the way. You also may want to plan your race route where there are restrooms. Safety is paramount when planning out your virtual race day. You should either run with other friends, or at a minimum make sure that there are people that know where you are running, and an estimated time of when you should be back by. Safety is important, but it is also important to have fun, so you could even involve friends in some unique ways. They could stand along your route with encouraging posters, or they could create a finish line for you. Whatever you do make sure that you have a memorable experience, and that often means running with your friends, or involving them in some way to support your adventure.
When you are planning where to run, you could look into some existing Strava routes, or you could build your very own custom route. If you choose to build your own route, you could do a loop course, an out-and-back course, or even a net downhill course. If you want a net downhill virtual race course, you will probably need a friend or family member to drop you off at a specified location that is higher altitude than your finish location, so that you can enjoy running a net downhill course. The great advantage of running a net downhill course is that online if there are race results, they usually don't compare net changes in altitude, so a downhill course can give you a real advantage. Scenery can be another great consideration when creating your course. We look forward to seeing your online race results coming in!
Learn how you can create your own virtual race here.