The best virtual races for runners to take part in

Jane McGuire
Photo credit: NIKLAS HALLEN

From Runner's World

Your race has been cancelled and the Government has told all runners that they must run alone, or with someone you live with. But this doesn’t mean total isolation for runners, thanks to the rise in virtual races.

The ability to run all of the virtual races listed below, without actually setting foot on the start line is amazing. So what are you waiting for? Sign up, lace up and get involved. Here's all of the best virtual challenges we’ve seen and how to enter them:

1.Local Landmarks Challenge

Cost: Free for London Landmarks Half runners, £12 for runners without ballot place

The London Landmarks Half Marathon was due to take place on Sunday 29 March, and while organisers are still trying to find a new date for the half marathon, they have launched the Local Landmarks Challenge. The challenge is free for runners who had a place in the half marathon, or £12 for runners who didn’t. The Local Landmarks Challenge is a solo, virtual run, around your local landmarks. Your local landmarks could be anything from your local church, castle, park, statue or even post box. Organisers are encouraging runners to take on the half marathon distance but 5k or 10k distances also qualify for the challenge. You can take part in the Local Landmarks Challenge until 3rd May 2020.

How to take part in the race:

1. Register for the Local Landmarks Challenge for free here

2. Run your solo Local Landmarks Challenge

3. Continue to fundraise for your chosen charity

4. Record your run on any tracking app, for example: Strava, Garmin, RunKeeper

5. Submit a picture of your solo run here

Organisers will be in touch within five days to confirm you have achieved your Local Landmarks Challenge and earn't your exclusive medal.

2. RunThrough virtual events

Cost: Varies depending on event

Race organisers RunThrough have taken their events virtual during the coronavirus lockdown. Matt Wood one of RunThroughs Co-Founders said: “RunThroughs vision has always been to improve mental and physical health through running. Due to Covid-19 we are in the short term not able to do this in person at our events, so we are putting our resources and time behind getting people out the door for a run alone keep them healthy and positive during a difficult time.”

How to take part in a race:

  1. Choose your virtual race from the list of events here.
  2. Run the distance.
  3. Send RunThrough proof of your run and they will send you your well earned medal and your goody bag.

3. Final Surge Virtual 5K

Cost: Free

The coaching platform Final Surge has launched a Virtual 5K for their athletes, who can run the race between Monday 23 March and Sunday 29 March.

How to take part in the race:

  1. Log on to Final Surge or set up and account here.
  2. Once you’ve signed up to the Virtual 5K, it will be added to your calendar for Saturday 28 March - you can move this to any day in the week commencing Monday 23 March.
  3. Run, jog or walk the 5K.
  4. Sync your race to final surge from your watch, Strava or connected app.
  5. You can then view your run on a leaderboard.

4. Virtual Runner UK

Cost: Varies depending on the race

Susan Wheatcroft is the founder of one such company, Virtual Runner UK. She was drawn into the world of virtual racing when she felt stuck for real-world alternatives. ‘I couldn’t find a race but wanted the motivation to continue my training,’ she says. Wheatcroft’s platform allows runners to complete everything from fun runs to ultramarathons, without any of the perceived pressures or logistical challenges of traditional events.

While Wheatcroft admits she ‘loves the thrill of racing with others’,she believes that the accessibility of virtual running is a huge selling point. ‘Virtual runners can train and compete around work, family and any other commitments they might have – all while earning quality medals and achieving their goals,’ says Wheatcroft.

How to take part in a race:

  1. Choose one of the virtual races listed on the website, there are 5K, 10K, half marathons and marathons to choose from.
  2. Submit your run online.
  3. Receive your medal in the post.

5. Strava Challenges

Cost: Free

Of course, if you’re not bothered about the medal or are not currently fundraising for anything, just signing up to a virtual Strava challenge could be all the motivation you need. For the rest of March there’s still a 5K challenge, a 10K challenge and a half marathon challenge.

How to take part:

  1. Join the challenge from your Strava account.
  2. Run the distance and log your miles on Strava.
  3. Athletes who complete this Challenge will receive a digital finishers badge in their Trophy Case on Strava.

6. Plan B Virtual Race

Cost: £10

After launching earlier this month, the Plan B Virtual Race had more than 1000 runners sign up to take part, causing race organisers to increase the size of the challenge. To keep runners motivated during the coronavirus pandemic, runners can sign up to a ‘Plan B’ virtual race of their choosing. There’s a number of different races, distances and challenges available. Entry into the race costs from £10, with all profits going to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

How to take part:

  1. Enter your chosen race on the FindaRace platform and pay your £10 entry fee.
  2. Run your distance.
  3. Complete your run and send race organisers evidence by 30 April.
  4. Receive your medal in the post.

7. The Great Welsh Marathon and Half Marathon

Cost: Free for runners with a place in the original race, £15 if not

The Great Welsh Marathon and Half Marathon has been postponed until Sunday 27 September, but race organisers wanted to give runners who had trained for the original date a chance to celebrate their training through a virtual run. Runners who have a place in the race already can take part for free, other runners will need to pay the £15 entry fee for either race.

How to take part:

  1. Enter the virtual marathon or half marathon.
  2. Run the distance.
  3. Send in evidence of your run.
  4. Receive your medal and race t-shirt in the post.

8. Running Down Dementia challenge

Cost: Free to sign up

In response to the cancelled races in the UK, Alzheimer’s Research UK is launching their virtual Running Down Dementia challenge. Participants are challenge to run or walk as much as they can between 1 April and 31 August. They can sign up for 100km, 300km or choose a distance that suits them.

How to take part:

  1. Sign up for your chosen challenge on the Running Down Dementia website.
  2. Set up your fundraising page and connect tracking apps.
  3. Take part over the next few months, listening to Government advice and running alone, at a safe distance from others for the time being.

9. Adidas City Runs

Cost: Free for runners with a spot in the City Runs

Adidas City Runs have taken their 1 hour challenge virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Runners who had already signed up to the event will receive their race packs from Tuesday 24 March - this will include their one hour t-shirt and their medal.

How to take part:

  1. Once you have received your race pack, run or walk as far as you can in one hour.
  2. Tag @CityRunsLdn in your photo from the event or afterwards with your medal.

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