15 Best Virtual Runs, Races & Challenges

We independently research our recommended products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our links.

Along with all the other challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic, another aspect of life that suffered was the ability to participate in live sports events. This was a major disappointment for those who regularly participated in running events and races.

Thankfully, race organizers came up with an alternative…

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, countless virtual runs, races, and challenges have emerged. Such races offer several benefits to participants, including competing from anywhere in the world at your own pace. This is a great alternative to running at in-person events during uncertain times.

There will be a race perfectly suited to you regardless of your fitness level, country of residence, or available budget.

The trend for virtual runs has grown substantially in the last few years, and each race features a host of different pros, cons, and race incentives. 

15 Best Virtual Runs, Races, Challenges

Best virtual runs and races

Virtual races have become increasingly popular over the last few years, with social distancing putting a damper on in-person races worldwide.

Several communities and charities host virtual races and challenges throughout the globe. Because these races can be enjoyed from wherever you are, it leaves you with an almost endless number of choices.

Virtual races are very similar in nature to normal, in-person races.

However, the biggest difference is the fact that you can participate in the race from anywhere in the world. Most virtual races also allow you to complete the event in your own time, provided you complete the race by a certain date or within a certain period.

Virtual races can be run using a treadmill, on the road, on a mountain trail, or even during another in-person race with peers. You can walk, jog or run through any virtual race. Some virtual challenges incorporate other methods of exercise, such as cycling.

Most virtual races and challenges offer race memorabilia to their participants. This generally comes in the form of medals, T-shirts, and other race memorabilia. Many challenges consist of multiple stages. These multi-stage races will generally give participants a medal for every completed stage or segment.

The quirky memorabilia mailed to participants often serves as a major incentive to participate and finish the races. As you can imagine, the biggest difficulty with virtual races is finding motivation. With in-person events, you have the adrenaline and pre-race anxiety to keep you going. 

When participating in any in-person race for which you have to train, you also have the set goal in mind of the official race date.

This generally serves as a major motivation for most participants. Without such motivation, it can be difficult for runners to stick to the schedule.

This is where virtual runs come in, recreating some of the motivational aspects of in-person races to give runners a specific goal to work towards. Most virtual challenges grant participants access to exclusive groups where runners can reach out and keep each other motivated.

The fifteen virtual challenges selected for this article were chosen based on their unique character, interesting memorabilia, and variation in terms of physical challenge and financial outlay.

In no particular order, the races we’ll be looking at include:

  • Run Across America
  • runDisney
  • Marathon To Athens
  • Conquer 2022
  • E-runner
  • Ultra-Challenge 2022
  • Route 66 Virtual Challenge
  • Edinburgh Virtual Challenge
  • My Magical Miles
  • Slow Runners Virtual Race
  • Run Hawaii Virtual Marathon 2022
  • River Run Virtual Race
  • Largest Weight Loser Virtual Run
  • Space Race
  • Dino Might Challenge

Let’s take a closer look!

Marathon to Athens

Marathon to Athens virtual race

https://www.theconqueror.events/athens/

As any well-read runner will tell you, the first marathon was run in Athens in 1896, so there is a strong correlation between running and this iconic city. This virtual challenge takes its participants along the original marathon route totaling 26.2 miles. 

If you aren’t able to run the full distance, you can walk, swim, or perform any distance-based activity. This Marathon to Athens also comes with an app that you can connect with your smartwatch or similar device.

Conquer 2022

https://www.theconqueror.events/product/conqueror-2022-virtual-challenge-entry-medal/

This is an excellent virtual challenge that spans over the entire year. The biggest benefit of this is setting your own goals and targets. You decide on the total distance you aim to achieve, which should naturally be challenging.

Besides the app that connects you to the Conqueror community, you will be able to join a private Facebook group containing members with whom you can connect to maintain a good level of motivation.

E-runner Run For Peace

Run for Peace

https://erunner.org/products/e-runner-run-for-peace

The E-runner Run For Peace: Stand For Ukraine is currently the largest Virtual Marathon for peace.

All profits for this race will be sent to help Ukraine during its current plight. Other benefits of this race include a beautifully-designed medal, a purpose-made app, and access to the international community of E-runners.

A cause we can all get behind…

Ultra-Challenge 2022

https://findarace.com/events/ultra-challenge-2022

As one of the more challenging virtual races, the Ultra-challenge 2022 involves running a total of 2022 kilometers throughout 2022. By accessing the race portal, you will be able to see your ranking compared to your peers.

If you’ve ever wanted to tackle one of the world’s hardest ultra marathons, this challenge will give you a feel for the stamina required – but only if you choose to nail the race in one go!

Route 66 Virtual Challenge

Virtual race postcards

https://www.theconqueror.events/route66/

The Route 66 Virtual Challenge involves a stunning virtual experience that lets you explore the entire 2,280 miles of the iconic Route 66 in a digital format. Participants will receive a virtual postcard containing information about the specific location you have just “reached” with every milestone reached.

Edinburgh Virtual Challenge

https://www.edinburghmarathon.com/#virtual

The Edinburgh Virtual challenge gives various choices for distance, from 1 mile to 26.2 miles. This is one of the biggest running events in the UK.

runDisney

Disney virtual series

https://www.rundisney.com

This iconic race by Disney is a great option for those die-hard Disney fans out there or simply for those runners who enjoy something different and unique.

Unfortunately, the virtual version of a Disney race will miss the excitement of seeing hundreds of people running in outrageous Disney-inspired costumes. 

However, there’s no reason you shouldn’t gather a large group of your favorite people together, ensuring they arrive for the race dressed as their favorite Disney character.

Several RunDisney races take place throughout the year. Bear in mind that these races tend to sell out extremely quickly. Arguably the best part of the Disney races is the collectible items that come with your registration.

All participants receive themed medals manufactured in true Disney style.

Some of the other items include a digital bib, certificate, and race toolkit, including printable markers to be used along the path of your own race setup. You’ll even get a music playlist customized according to the theme of the race.

My Magical Miles

https://www.medalmad.com

My Magical Miles, hosted by MedalMad, boasts some very interesting virtual running events with exciting themes. Choose from any available themes and enjoy the virtual race that suits you best.

You can choose from various distances between 3 miles and 250 miles, and this has to be completed within 60 days. 

Slow Runners Virtual Race

https://www.thebestraces.com

The Slow Runners Virtual Race is designed for runners who want no external pressure and a stress-free run. You get to choose the location and pace, and you can even have custom T-shirts made with the name of your own hometown.

Run Across America

https://nationwiderun.org

Run Across America is a virtual marathon that supports a great cause. Their primary benefactor is Feeding America, a charity organization that works hard to put food on the table during difficult periods. 

This incredible organization puts nearly 5 million meals on the tables of the needy in the space of a single year. There are different options when it comes to the distance you will run. Your options include 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers, or a half marathon. This means that participants of almost any fitness level can enjoy the event.

Let's Run America

Another noble aspect of the Run Across America initiative is granting free entry to as many frontline pandemic workers as possible to show their gratitude. This includes grocery shop workers, postal workers, nurses, and doctors. 

Some of the benefits included in your entry to the race are a race T-shirt, a bib, a swag bag, and a unique tracking app that goes hand in hand with your race experience.

Run Hawaii Virtual Marathon 2022

https://runsignup.com/Race/HI/AnywhereUSA/RunHawaiiVirtualMarathon2021

Not only does your entry include a pack of silk Hawaiian Luas to wear during your run, but you will also receive a comprehensive training plan to ensure you complete the race in the best possible way.

During this race, you will experience the best that Hawaii has to offer from the comfort of your own home.

River Run Virtual Race

https://runsignup.com/Race/WI/Anywhere/RiverRunVirtualRace

The River Run Virtual Race is designed to celebrate the rivers that surround us and make such an enormous positive contribution to our natural world. You have the option to run 3 miles, 6 miles, a half-marathon, or a full marathon.

Largest Weight Loser Virtual Run

https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/Anywhere/LargestWeightLoserVirtualRun

This virtual run has a title that speaks for itself. The goal here is for everybody in the community to keep each other motivated to achieve their respective weight-loss goals. Naturally, participants in this race will also receive a full training plan and a Warrior Fit Game to help train for the race.

The idea is to use the motivation and competition of a virtual race to help shed some extra belly fat – and the results have been impressive so far!

Space Race

Virtual Space Race rewards

https://www.virtualrunningclub.com/events/space-race/

Space Race, one of the many races hosted by Virtual Running Club, is a 400-mile challenge that takes participants on a journey through the solar system. After each milestone, competitors will receive a “planetary pin” before finally receiving your medal after completing the entire challenge.

Dino-Might Challenge

https://www.virtualrunningclub.com/events/dino-might/

The Dino-Might Challenge, also hosted by Virtual Running Club, consists of 100 miles of running. Participants earn dinosaur-themed pins throughout the race before receiving a beautifully-designed medal for completing the entire challenge.

Get Started with a Virtual Run

As you can see, there’s no shortage of weird and wonderful options for virtual races.

With no limit on location, you could keep yourself busy all year collecting medals – and you’d probably do wonders for your health and fitness in the process.

Whether you choose your virtual race based on the potential incentives such as medals and T-shirts, or your choice of race hinges on the connection with the rest of the racing community, you will find a race that appeals to you.

Whichever race you choose, remember the main intention behind any type of sports event – enjoyment!

Leave a Comment