By: Daniel Hamilton, Triathlete and Marathon Runner
Ah, 2020. The year live racing died and virtual racing became prominent…wait virtual racing, prominent? Yes, I have been running for 6 years and competing in triathlons for the last 2 now and I have been aware of these virtual races all along. I have also been aware that I’d rather be hit by a truck than sign up for one of them!
That said, 2020 started off well, I got through my first 2 indoor tris and was feeling really excited about the really packed schedule of racing I had for the rest of the year. I had my first 70.3, another marathon and a couple of destination half marathons, and then came June and the emergence of COVID 19 in the United States. All of a sudden, mine and just about everyone else’s race schedule turned to an ugly mix of cancellations and postponements. My race calendar had over 20 races left on it and was completely wiped out, but then, a lifeline!
Some of the races that had cancelled began offering them as virtual races, what a concept! The idea of virtual had always been a nonstarter for me, who really wants to run on their own, on a nondescript course? Well, when you lose the option of running a race live, hey, that virtual race sounds like great fun!
With that in mind, I decided, hey, I have to do something or I will wind up a permanent part of my couch, so off to the virtual races I went. It started with a 5k here and a 10k there and then Ironman decided to start offering a virtual duathlon every week.
Now I have the races I signed up for that became virtual and the Ironman events. Woohoo, I’m biking and running regularly and with bling to show for it! I even started signing up for virtual races that actually were virtual to begin with. Let me tell you, a lot of the medals for those races are more fun than the ones you get during most live races.
At the end of the day, live racing will rise from the ashes one day and those will be the preferred races, but, I have gained a new respect and plenty of gratitude for its step sibling, virtual racing. I will never shrug it off as just an after thought again. I may even sprinkle a couple of them into my race schedule in years to come