We’re seeing a number of virtual races emerge this year, as runners, walkers, and bikers won’t get to participate in traditional races due to COVID-19 and the need to reduce crowd sizes. Virtual races allow people to tackle designated routes on their own time in smaller groups. People can run, walk, or bike anywhere in the world, record their time using an app, and then submit the time into the organizer’s results platform.
While racers won’t experience the camaraderie of running, walking or biking together, virtual races provide an opportunity to keep the racing community engaged on both a local and national scale through training and social media support. Organizers and participants can encourage others to get outside, be active and celebrate their accomplishments. They provide support to long time athletes and those just starting their fitness journey by creating an online community where participants can engage with one another, just like they would at the starting line or finisher’s party of a “normal” race. Recent studies have shown virtual races actually engage a greater population than those typically involved with traditional races.
With fewer barriers to entry and a focus on inclusion, virtual races engage folks who may not have typically entered a race in the past. The cost of entering a race is much cheaper as we’re seeing lower entry fees, and no need to travel to a race location or pay for a hotel.
Plus, many people are finding virtual races are a great way to encourage both physical and mental health. As we focus on social distancing and make changes to our daily routines, many people are finding it challenging to maintain mental wellbeing. The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling children, and lack of physical contact with family, friends and colleagues have had an impact on all of us. Virtual races provide an outlet to help keep people motivated, encouraging mental health and wellness.
Incentives like finisher race kits, “door” prizes, gifts for participants with the highest engagement, and charitable donations encourage participants to stay engaged. At Fairware, we’re seeing organizers put together race kits that include things like branded cinch bags, race jerseys, water bottles, custom socks, finisher medals, and buffs to use as face coverings. Until a few months ago, a face covering would’ve seemed like an odd choice for a promotional merchandise bag, but now it might be the one product runners, walkers and bikers alike use most. Buffs can be worn around the neck and easily pulled up over the mouth and nose when needed. We have options with UPF 40+ UV protection, made with breathable, moisture-wicking fabric.
If you’re organizing a virtual race event, head over to our Virtual Race Presentation to get more ideas for what to include in your kits. Don’t have the budget to gift all participants? Advertise that custom branded race kits are included for the first 25, 50 or 100 people to sign up!
Virtual race events are a great way to promote exercise, raise awareness for causes and support communities, charities and mental health. With so many benefits, they may be here to stay long after the pandemic is over.