With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a sudden proliferation of virtual races. With the stay at home orders and social distancing measures in place, it has become impossible to have a physical race so enter the virtual event. What the heck is a virtual event many of you have asked? A virtual event is simply an event where you participate but at a different location and possible time from the actual event. For a race, that means you run on your own at a location of your choosing but at the same distance as the advertised race. When you are done, you provide your time to the event to be listed in an unofficial tally. In return, the race provides you with a finisher medal and race shirt for your participation and accomplishment. This is different than a sleepwalker or sleep-in category where you are simply registering for an event but have no intention of actually running. You get the swag but you are basically making a donation to the event.
The reason for the sudden appearance of virtual races is because many races are faced with an immediate need to make a change to their event. They don’t want to cancel but are unable to postpone. The virtual race provides an easy way for the race to still be conducted and provide swag which may have already been purchased to the participants. Most of these events are behind held by non-profits with a need to raise funds for their charity. These races provide a much needed infusion of cash to help with their ongoing efforts. With the pandemic, many of these non-profits have an even greater need than before. A virtual race allows the organization to have a donation campaign but with the race, provides an entertaining way to raise those funds. Several organizations have created social media pages to help create buzz about the event. This makes it fun for everyone.
At the time of this writing we are only a few weeks into the disaster and are already looking at events cancelled into early May. We fully expect this to be prolonged further until conditions improve. For the non-profits who have events on the calendar, they will be forced to make some decisions about the event. A virtual race is just one of several options available. If you are a non-profit with an event, please talk to us about options for your race. We have the tools and resources to make this easy for you. If you are a participant looking for a race, please consider finding a virtual event for one of the non-profits. You can help out a cause doing something you would do anyway.