Virtual Running

THE JOY OF RUNNING IN COVID TIMES: VIRTUAL RUNNING

These are those lockdown days.  The world is under a massive attack from a little known enemy – a virus.  The virus has paralyzed the whole of humanity.  It has led to the shut down of business and economy, political boundaries, and social contacts.

It has not left out the runners.  The runners all over the world who love to run half marathons and full marathons have drawn flak after every race including the longest-running in history, the Boston Marathon has been called off. 

But, has it dampened the spirit of runners? No Way!

The runners and the passionate lovers of this sport know that difficult times only bring the best in them. And so, there is some good news.

We have got back to running. We are running Virtual Races.

In this post, I will tell you all that.

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL RACE?

The age of internet is the age of virtual reality.

Virtual Running involves participation of runners in a race from the comforts of their physical/geographical locations.

Let me explain to you that. You can be anywhere on the planet. Your are geographically not required to be present at one fixed venue. The runners run in different cities, countries and continents.

But they all run as one. There is no fixed venue but there is a common date and there is a common cut-off time that is decided prior to the start of the race. There is no common start line nor there is a common finish line. You could be running in Florida, Miami in the backyard of your house and I would run the same race from the nearest playground in New Delhi India. Howzat!!

HOW DOES IT TAKE PLACE

Let us understand the process of participation now.

1. THE APPLICATION CUM REGISTRATION PROCESS.

The process of applying for any Virtual race is just the same as you would do for a real racing event. So, you just go to the website of the organisers and fill up your details like name, address, location, age category, distance category etc. And you pay for the tickets to participate.

Post completion of the application cum registration form, you will receive all the race details at the email address you have provided. It will have your Bib No, date of the event, and the cut-off times for the event.

2.VIRTUAL RUNNING EVENT PARTICIPATION

The way a Virtual Racing event unfolds is very interesting to know. So. let us come to know that.

First of all, you do not have a common start line. Ye you heard me right. There is no need to get up in the wee hours of the morning and drive all the way to the racing venue.

You will be given a time cut-ff to finish your race. Say, you are running on the 15th of August from Miami, Florida. And I am running in India. Since, we have different time zones, we might not run exactly at the same time.

Your race cut-off time may start later than mine as Indian Time Zone is ahead of US Time Zone. So, you may be starting your race when I would be nearing my completion. But the beauty is that we need to compete and complete on the same date and in the stipulated cut-off times.

Generally, the cut-off times are from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm. You can decide to run and finish running in this time frame.

3. HOW THE WINNERS ARE CHOSEN

Although you do not run alongside each other you do compete.  And technology has made it possible.  There are tracking devices available that you may use to track your runs.

Let us talk about those options here:

RUN TRACKING APPS:

Your Cellphone or mobile phone is Smart phone now. It is a GPS enabled device. That’s how google maps works on it and you are able to identify any location.

There are many GPS enabled mobile apps available that you can download and use for tracking the runs. Let me give you a few examples of them here:

  1. STRAVA
  2. GOOGLE FIT

These mobile running apps are the ones that I have used in the past. I am still on STRAVA and I love that. In fact, STRAVA is not just a mobile tracking app. It is Facebook for runners and avid cyclists.

Google fit is a minimalist app that can be used to track down running/walking/heart rate etc neatly.

SMART WATCHES FOR TRACKING RUNS

Using a Smartwatch is the most popular option among passionate runners. This is the first thing that I tell any new runner to have. It is not just a run tracking device but a smart health kit to track down a whole range of health stats.

So, you can use a smartwatch to record your running data.  I do it all the time. I use my Garmin Forerunner 35. I simply love it. It automatically syncs all my running date to STRAVA as well.

Once you have recorded your running data, you may upload this data on the organizer’s website or send it to them by e-mail.  They would verify the data and then provide you your overall ranking among all the running participants. 

YOU DO GET TO WEAR YOUR BIB

O yes! You do get an allotted Bib much before the race day.  It is emailed to you.  You just need to take the print out of the Bib and wear it against your chest as you do. 

YOU DO GET YOUR FINISHER’S MEDAL

Yes! Even a medal is not far away when you participate in big virtual races.  The organizers do provide you with a finisher’s medal.  This will be couriered to you.  Once you receive it, you can proudly wear it and show it to your buddies. 

YOU CAN RUN ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME

There is no prior approval required for the running route that you may choose.  All you need to do in choosing your running route is to make sure that it can be recorded on GPS systems like a smart running watch or an app like STRAVA. 

So, it’s virtually anywhere.

The charm of running a real marathon of course cannot be compared or compensated with a virtual race.  The joy and the fun that you get going to expos, assembling at the starting line and crossing the finishing line in the public glare of runners!! 

SANJU RUNS

Nevertheless, the joy and thrill of running will be felt when you are running a virtual race.  And in these tough times, having a hope like a virtual race is a blessing in disguise.  I love these races.  I don’t need to go anywhere but I still get to enjoy my runs and share my running thrills with my running buddies. 

Have you ever participated in any virtual running event? How was your experience?

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