I was fascinated to read in the NYTimes about the virtual running, racing and challenging movement, a relatively recent trend that began about 5 years ago:
Bob Bickel, founder of the race registration platform Run Sign Up, said the organization saw virtual races pop up “in earnest” about five years ago. One of the first popular virtual runs, he said, was that of Jeff Galloway, a running coach who trains runners using a run-walk-run method. In 2018, 1,050 people finished Mr. Galloway’s virtual events, which included a 5K and half marathon...Ms. Silvester, 44, of Plainsboro, N.J., said her first virtual run came through the tracking app Run Keeper. In 2017, she was new to the sport, and she’d been using the app to track her progress. She saw that she could participate in a “challenge” event, where runners who donated $35 to Beat Nb, a nonprofit that funds research for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, got a T-shirt for completing the run. She’d done traditional races before, but as a single mother of two who works full time, she liked the flexibility of something virtual.
Organizations as varied as Disney and the New York Road Runners are involved. Interestingly, Disney relies on an honor system, while other virtual races and challenges connect with Strava or other similar technology to verify running accomplishments and milestones.
This seems like a fun way to build community and get people excited about running despite challenging schedules. I've always been intrigued by the Foursquare-mayorship-meets-fitness-and-fun of Run an Empire.
What do you think?