Life is full of choices. Rock&Roll or Country? Beach or Mountains? Coke or Pepsi?  Even when it comes to races, we have choices to make. Run or Walk? Pavement or Trail? Big or Small? And a relative newcomer, Live or Virtual?

A few years back when a friend told me I could run virtual races and get medals, I was thrilled…and confused. How does a virtual race work? Do I sit on the couch & visualize myself running a 5k with a 6/minute mile? Start…Visualize…Done…20 minutes!

No, not so fast, literally. There’s more to it than that. My next step was to google “virtual races” and like with everything googled, a plethora of information was presented to me. Apparently there are many, many people like me who have the desire to collect as much bling as possible from running, and IMHO, virtual races were made for us!

How does it work? In a nutshell, you pick a race you want to do, sign up, pay and complete the race wherever/whenever/however you want to. What race you choose to do is up to you. I’ve chosen some because I wanted to support a charity the race was sponsoring, and the less altruistic reason of liking the medal I would receive. Your race can be completed by yourself in your neighborhood or local park, inside on a treadmill, or at another live race. Some virtuals have a time frame for your race to be completed. Some don’t. Some require you to submit your time/date, etc. Some don’t. Your medal gets sent in the mail to you. Boom-Bling!

Having participated in several virtual & many live races, they both have their advantages & disadvantages. While virtual races are convenient, they lack the thrill and excitement of a live race. I get pumped up by all the other people at live races. I like being a part of the big event and enjoy the camaraderie. Some live races give me the opportunity to run in places not normally open for pedestrians, like normally busy streets that are blocked off for the duration of the race or locations not open to the public. They also give me an excuse to visit other locations, a race-cation weekend. I’ve done races in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida & Oregon.
On the other end of the coin, virtual races are not only more convenient, they are also more cost-and-time-effective. You are paying for the medal & any other goodies you want to purchase, but you are not paying for the travel expenses for a destination race. You are also not getting up at an un-holy hour of the morning to get to a 7:30a.m. race an hour away from your home.

Virtual races require self discipline in another form, however. Your accountability for the race completion is only on you. Once you’ve paid, you will receive your medal whether you complete the race or not. It’s all on you. Some virtual race companies encourage you to post your time, pictures, etc. on their social media pages. I see this as a way of encouraging group participation in a solo racing effort.  Plus, posting a picture of yourself in your race gear with your medal is just plain fun!

The bottom line is…as runners/walkers/joggers (whatever we are) we have more choices than ever for enjoying the sport we love. There seem to be more races than ever to participate in…big ones in fun locations, small ones close to home or on our treadmill in the garage. The possibilities are endless. I say get out there & enjoy them all!

(P.S. As a Georgian, I am, of course, Coke not Pepsi:)

Happy Running!