Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and live, in-person events, and restrictions, the Canaan Valley Half Marathon organizers feel that seasonal virtual races and challenges are a great way to connect with runners. Robby McClung founder and owner of the Canaan Valley Half Marathon, has announced that the event is undergoing a significant change in focus and implementation. Because of the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the event managers have decided to launch a seasonal virtual race. Beginning with the first day of Fall 2020, there will be a Virtual Fall Running Race/Challenge, one for winter, one for spring and one for summer.
In an interview recently, Robby McClung explained, “Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we have decided to launch seasonal Virtual Races/Challenges as a way to connect with our runners and grow our community. This seasonal virtual competition has distances starting 5k (3.1 miles) and up. They plan to have distances to challenge and encourage runners of all levels of experience. If you are someone who enjoys running but wants to avoid the rising risk of COVID, a virtual event will keep you safe and away from crowds.”
If virtual races are a new concept, this idea may be a favorite for runners of all ages and locations. A virtual contest uses all the positive features of competing in a race and eliminates many of the less pleasant aspects. A 5k virtual challenge is simple enough that even a non-tech person can compete. Each participant agrees to run the exact distance, record their time, and post the results. The winners’ medals will be distributed by mail. A virtual challenge is similar to virtual races but comprises longer distances completed over more extended periods of time.
There is a whole array of reasons why a virtual competition might be particularly suitable in times of social distancing. The race can be run at a time convenient to the runner. Motivation to stay goal-oriented is easier to maintain, and many of the virtual events are linked to charitable causes. The virtual competition can be done at any place convenient to the runner. It can be at a nearby park or on a treadmill in front of the television. There are no spectators to intimidate beginning runners. There are no travel or accommodation costs, no time limits, and no crowds.