Virtual Races Are A Great Reason To Run


Given the speed at which VR technology is developing, taking part in a virtual race conjures images of strapping on a headset and heading for the stars, or at least some of the Earth’s most luxurious locations, for your run.

In truth, virtual races are not quite that exciting, but they’re still a good way to motivate yourself. You sign up for a race online, then run a set distance wherever and whenever you like, uploading proof of your run along with your results. Paying to do this might seem a tad odd, but there are benefits to virtual racing.

Firstly, you usually get a medal, which is nice. Then there’s the convenience of racing in your own neck of the woods, at whatever time suits. They’re also often for good causes and you still get the motivation of competing in an event, which, even at a distance, can get you off the sofa and on the road. Here are a few virtual options to consider.

Run With The Ancestors

The British Science Association might not be your first thought when looking for a virtual run, but it’s more or less nailed the format. Last year to celebrate British Science Week it created the Run To The Deep race, where audio narration guided you on a journey to the sea bed while you ran 10K, and this year’s event takes you through the history of Britain, covering the last 500,000 years if you opt for the 5K and one million years if you tackle 10K. You can sign up for the free event any time up until the end of British Science Week on 17th March. Once you’ve signed up, simply run your race and track it with the partner app to upload to the global leaderboard. You can also pay to get merchandise like an event medal, if you want to commemorate your trip through Britain’s past.

Sign up | Free

Zombies, Run! Train To Oban

No-one does story-led running better than Zombies, Run! and the popular app now contains over 200 missions where you seek to avoid the undead during your runs. The people behind the app also put on regular virtual events, where the medal is as good as the standalone adventure that you’ll follow during the run. The latest of these is Train To Oban, in which you’re a passenger on the first voyage of the Oban Express, the fastest train in the world. Unfortunately, another passenger happens to be carrying the zombie virus so you must find a way to survive the trip unscathed…

Sign up | $30 (around £23)

POW Virtual Running London #RejectRunner

Were you one of the hundreds of thousands of people who struck out in the London Marathon ballot? Still fancy running 42.2km this April? Then sign up for this virtual event specifically for those who ran out of luck in the ballot. You can run the marathon in several efforts across April to earn your medal, or run it in one go on Sunday 29th when the London Marathon takes place.

London #RejectRunner is one of many events POW Virtual Running is putting on in 2019, with lots of others tied to films and TV shows, so if you want a special “Run You Fools” or “Escape The Upside Down” medal, this is the place to go.

Sign up | £10

Virtual Runner UK

This website offers a massive range of races, from 5Ks that you have to complete on a certain day to mileage challenges that span a year, so you can combine short-term motivation while also working towards a long-term goal. The medals are pretty impressive too and a percentage of the money you pay to enter each race goes to charity, with a variety of causes supported. There are so many race themes and angles that everyone should find something to tickle their interest – but if you’re looking for one recommendation, we really like the look of the space-themed medal for the International Space Challenge, which runs from 1st to 12th May and simply involves completing as many miles as you can to climb the virtual leaderboard.

Sign up | £12

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