Love it or hate it, virtual racing is back as one of the few options to keep your competitive fire burning. Hannah Irwin points you in the direction of some upcoming, and ongoing events

We all thought it was starting to become a thing from the past, but with the arrival of lockdown 3.0, it is back. Virtual racing, once a complete unknown, has now become very popular.

Just because it isn’t racing as we know it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be something that motivates us. There can be a powerful feeling attached to virtual racing. Whilst we can’t race together, there is comfort in knowing that you are part of a large community of runners who have all united over their passion for a sport when the world is in crisis.

It is a group of people who no matter what the situation, will come together to ensure everyone gets to keep their enjoyment for running strong. That is the power of running; even when you are running alone, you are never on your own.

For many, racing acts as the main source of motivation for training. You feel driven to push yourself as hard as you can in training as you know it will all be worth it come race day.

Yes of course we know it’s not for everyone however, with racing in person cancelled for the time being, virtual racing acts as the next best thing to give you the drive you need. Here are a few virtual races for you to keep your eye on over the next few weeks.

Centurion One Love 50k

If you really love a challenge, and the further the distance the better for you, the Centurion One Love 50k could be perfect. This is the fourth virtual event in the One Community Series and offers athletes the chance to spend Valentine’s Day with their one true love… running.

The event spans over the weekend of the 13th-14th February, and having spent so much time with those you live with over lockdown, you’ll probably be grateful for the chance to get out of the house for a bit longer! For those eager to participate but slightly scared by the 50k distance, there is also a half marathon and 5k event.

This is a great opportunity to have something to aim for during our third lockdown and prepare for some actual races later in the year (hopefully!).

England Virtual Relay Champs

Helping athletes stay connected with their fellow club mates at a time when club training has come to a halt, is the EA 5-mile national club relays. The virtual championships unites men and women into one team with spaces being filled equally by both.

More athletes can run for each team, but it is the four fastest men and women who come together to complete a team. The event is due to finish this weekend, and as it stands Andy Coley-Maud leads for the men with a time of 24:09 and Hannah Viner for the women in 28:06.

Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow are the leading club with a combined time of 3:41:47. The top 50 clubs will progress to round two in February with the winners of that round competing against the leading club from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you are eager to get involved there is still time to run as the event deadline has been extended due to icy conditions across the country. All you need to do is get your time logged by 23:59 on Wednesday 13th January!

The Spine Race Virtual Event

In normal, non-virtual times, the Spine Race is considered one of the world’s toughest endurance races. It tests athletes not only physically, but also mentally. The event sees athletes race along the Pennine Way non-stop, battling the brutalist conditions the British winter has to offer.

The virtual challenge however, is open for athletes across the world to partake in. Whilst the traditional event is 268 miles, the virtual ‘sprint’ offers athletes the opportunity to race over 26.8 miles. Athletes can log the distance they run, either at once or over multiple runs, and see their progress on a virtual map starting in Edale and finishing in the wild moorlands of Standedge in West Yorkshire.

For athletes looking to embrace the full challenge as much as possible, a live weather feed allows you to imagine yourself running through those usual brutal conditions.

Lindsays Virtual Road Challenge

ScottishAthletics have been at the forefront of organising virtual races and challenges. If you want to take part in their first of 2021 you’ll need to be quick though, as it ends tomorrow!

The Lindsays Virtual Road Challenge includes time trials over a range of distances with Nynke Mulholland (29:03) and James Donald (23:45) the current leaders in the 8km challenge. Live results can be seen here, and more details on the event can be found here.

Serpiesphere Virtual 5K series

A great example of a club providing competitive opportunities for their members,  the Serpieshere 5km series organised by Serpentine Running Club, works out positions based on a handicap basis, using net time, handicapped time, and your position in your age group, to calculate the final positions.

It’s for club members only so either join the Serpies or take inspiration for your own club or group. The great thing about this event is you can do as many races as the series offers and your performance over each race will be added together and considered, so you can truly track your progress like you would in normal racing.

Runderwear Virtual 10km

Our friends at Runderwear have organised a virtual 10km on Sunday 17th January, a popular weekend for virtual races it seems. The races offers prizes for the top three athletes, male and female, and builds on their very popular virtual 10 mile race in 2020.

Morecambe Virtual Half Marathon

If your goal for 2021 has been to debut or get a PB over the half marathon distance, this could be your chance. Why not get started early in the year and get a feel for racing 13.1 miles. There is nothing like hitting your target in the first month of the year, but it also acts as a motivation booster if you don’t quite reach it.

The Morecambe Virtual Half is part of the Lancashire race series that has gone ahead as planned, but all virtually. The event takes place until the 17th of January and must be completed in one run within the time frame, so you still have another week to get your run done. With this event you’ll even receive a medal and t-shirt! If that doesn’t cheer you up over lockdown 3.0, I don’t know what will!

We are all affected by demotivating feelings at times, especially now, so you may be surprised by how much virtual racing can actually help keep your drive alive. Your competitive spirit might take over more than you thought. So, why not give one of these races a go over the upcoming weeks.