Due to coronavirus, many marathons and other races across the globe have been postponed or cancelled.

And if you’re a runner that had your heart set on a new PB at a local sporting event, having your plans derailed or abandoned can be really disheartening.


However, new research from running brand Asics has found that 79% of runners globally say running is currently helping them feel saner and more in control.

So if you’re looking for a way to put all your lockdown running mileage to good use, why not keep the race day spirit alive and take part in a virtual race?

These online events allow you to safely compete for a finish time, without ever having to step foot on the starting line…

1. The Inca Trail Virtual Marathon (entry £24.95)

This 26.2 mile dash takes runners along the iconic Inca Trail in Peru, finishing up at Machu Picchu. Every time you go for a run, you’ll advance along the virtual trail, which runners can follow on an accompanying smartphone app.

Pick your own start date and choose how many weeks you want to set as your goal to complete the challenge – you can either do it in one almighty effort, or break it down into smaller chunks. When you make it to the finish line, the race organisers will even post a medal to you.

2. Strava challenges (free entry)

Running tracker Strava regularly hosts virtual racing events for its millions of dedicated users. There are 5K, 10K and half marathons to sign up to, as well as distance and climbing challenges – check out their virtual Challenge Gallery for upcoming events.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to a global leaderboard, so you can check your time against some of the best runners in the world. Every time you complete a challenge, you’ll also receive a digital finisher’s badge in your trophy case on the Strava app.

3. Great American 5,000 (entry £40)

If you fancy getting your pals involved in a socially distanced running challenge, the Great American 5,000 is a virtual team run that sees groups relay the enormous distance between San Francisco and New York.

Teams can consist of 12, or up to 24, people, and once you’ve all paid the entry fee, you can start to individually chip away at the mammoth 5,000k (3,107-mile) journey.

Running groups can check their progress on an online map and a leaderboard will display standings each day. The race organisers will also let you know when you’ve passed noteworthy milestones en route, such as Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.

4. Plan B (entry £10)

The Plan B running challenge has a number of different virtual races to sign up to – from solo marathon efforts to team distance running. There are even kids’ running challenges for mini runners to get involved in.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have 30 days from entering to complete your challenge in your local area, and if you send race organisers evidence of your completed run (such as a screenshot from Strava), they’ll send you a medal in the post.

All the races cost £10, and £2.50 of the entry fee will go towards supporting Alzheimer’s Society.

5. July Minotaur 20k (entry £12)

The Virtual Racing website has lots of different challenges throughout the summer, such as a 20k challenge that asks participants to run the full distance in the month of July.

To earn your medal, you can either attempt the 20k in one session, or break it into multiple runs, but you must complete the distance by the end of July.

Race organisers will donate £2 from every £12 entry fee to mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness.

Read more: Preparing for your first marathon – Paula Radcliffe shares her running tips.



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