BOW VALLEY – No sports? No problem.
Registrations are heating up for virtual racing events and just in time for summer.
Three local sports companies are hosting virtual running races and series, where participants run wherever and whenever, and time themselves on the course they’ve signed up. The idea is to maintain a safe social distance while staying active and keeping athletes motivated this year.
“[Virtual racing] has been out there on the Internet and everyone’s going virtual,” said Kevin McDonald, race director for 5 Peaks Adventures. “It seems like the thing to do and we’ll try it out and see how the reaction is.”
The virtual racing starts this week with Zone4’s Virtual Solo Challenge, a four-km run from May 20 to June 3 with free registration. Then from June 20 to July 5, the Banff Marathon, Half Marathon and 10-km, which cancelled its event this year, will go virtual for its three races.
From June to October, 5 Peaks is having a virtual race series, where four different options will be available each month for runners to choose from.
McDonald said almost 3,000 people have already signed up and thinks it will be a growing craze over the summer.
“Every race all over the world has been cancelled this year and people’s only options are to defer entries to 2021, or sign up to go virtual,” McDonald said.
McDonald added that he thinks once people are able to race in large groups again, the trend will switch back.
“A lot of people want that community feel with other people around – it’s the advantage of an event,” he said.
Etienne Richard, spokesperson for Zone4, a local company that offers timing solutions to sports events, echoed that the virtual racing trend is becoming more popular among sports groups, but will have a peak.
“I think it will be to a certain point, then things will be going back and being apart of real event will be very special,” Richard said.
But for now, sporting events are excited to give it a go.
Teaming up with Protect Our Winters, an environmental group that shares the same values of Zone4, the goal of the solo challenge is keeping the community together, motivated and active, and to support a great cause.
“It’s more for fun and to bring the community together,” Richard said. “Many clubs across the country and their coaches have been happy to share the challenge with the teams.”