Most runners began 2020 as usual: signing up for fall races and setting big running goals for the year. Little did we know that running events would change drastically as the year progressed. Suddenly, our goal races became virtual running challenges, and the trend is now continuing, even in 2023.
What is a virtual challenge?
With many in-person events being cancelled for the beginning of 2023, most goal races have now turned into virtual running challenges.
These virtual challenges provide a way for runners to be rewarded for their training efforts by completing the race distance on their own and receiving commemorative medals and/or shirts in the mail to mark the occasion.
Virtual running challenges require quite a bit of mental strength, willpower and perseverance to complete. As we forgo the community support, camaraderie of fellow runners and family cheering squads that accompany just about every race, we have to dig deep to find our motivation and commitment to continue running solo.
Related: 8 Tips to Enjoy Solo Running | Motivation for Running Alone
How do I run virtually?
Many runners have found themselves being transferred to a virtual running challenge without even signing up. As fall races transition to virtual-only events, the runners who were signed up for the original run are now automatically being transitioned to the virtual events.
However, if you’re a runner who is still hoping to find a virtual running challenge to keep you motivated to train for the rest of 2020, searching for the right fit can feel a little overwhelming.
There are tons of virtual race options now, and while this means that there is definitely something for everyone, narrowing things down when you first begin looking is a bit stressful.
A virtual running challenge will help you stay motivated.
As more and more in-person races get cancelled, the motivation to continue training seems to diminish as well. However – just because you can no longer complete your goal amidst a crowd doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all of the training you’ve already completed.
Related: How to Overcome Low Running Motivation
Whether you are trained for a 1 mile sprint, a leisurely 5k or are working towards a marathon, there are tons of virtual running challenges that will help you stay motivated to meet your goal.
The best part – these virtual running challenges come with a lot of different bling, themes, distances, and so much more.
Check out some of the best virtual running challenges of 2020. These virtual running events will reward you with a medal and many other goodies for completing a “race” on your own. Try one of these options to stay motivated this fall!
The Best Virtual Running Challenges of 2023
*Updated: January 5, 2023
Solo Running Challenges
After months of training, it can be hard to continue running when you find out that your race got cancelled. With no specific end goal, logging daily miles feels a bit pointless. When plans change, completing a fun running challenge is a great way to keep yourself accountable while still enjoying yourself.
These 10 running challenges are perfect for runners hoping to stay in shape this year even when races are cancelled. Try completing one of these fun challenges to stay active, even without a medal. Choose from a running streak to negative splits, stretching or strength training.
Check out 10 Virtual Running Challenge ideas here!
Run Across America
This virtual running challenge supports Feeding America with 2x matches. Since May of 2020, they’ve donated 4.7 million meals to help keep food on the table through tough times. You can select your own distance with the option of a 5k, 10k, or half marathon.
They are extending their thanks to the frontline workers who have been getting us through the pandemic – from postal workers and grocery clerks, to physicians and nurses – by welcoming as many as they can afford to for free. If you sign up, you’ll receive a race t-shirt, bib, swag bag and unique tracking app!
Check out the Run Across America challenge here!
If you are looking for some extra special bling to commemorate your virtual running, Run Disney has got you covered. Their current virtual running challenge consists of running three virtual 5ks. You earn a medal for each 5k, as well as an extra medal for the challenge.
Each virtual 5k has its own unique Disney theme. If you are a Disney lover, these medals will make the race even more special.
Check out the runDisney Virtual Running Challenge here!
**edited to add: Disney has yet to add a new virtual challenge for 2023, so keep this page bookmarked to be the first to know when they do.
Rokman Challenge Series
Rokman is the perfect place to look if you’re wanting to mix things up and commit to a month-long challenge. Every month, Rokman provides a series of weekly challenges ranging from short speed challenges to long distance treks. If you’re wanting something a bit different each month, Rokman will surely keep you on your toes!
These challenges are completely free to sign up for, and will keep you motivated throughout the month. Stay in shape and continue to improve your fitness in different ways each week with these exciting challenges.
Check out the Rokman Virtual Running Challenges here!
The Conqueror Virtual Events
If you are really wanting to challenge yourself in 2023, the Conqueror’s virtual fitness events are the perfect way to do so. Each virtual run is uniquely themed to match a natural wonder. Event distances line up with their unique theme, starting with a 21 mile challenge and working their way up all the way to a 2,280 mile challenge!
Choose from different natural, international themes, such as the Inca Trail, the English Channel, the Grand Canyon and much more. You’ll receive a medal and shirt with all of these virtual running challenges.
Check out the Conqueror Virtual Running Challenges here!
Race at Your Pace
If you’re like most runners, your goals are usually heavily focused on a certain distance. Race At Your Pace accommodates these desires by creating many different virtual running challenges based on distance.
Here you can choose from a 5 mile challenge all the way up to a 250 mile challenge. Distances are available in 5 mile increments so you are bound to find one that aligns with your running goals. You’ll receive a medal and unique shirt for each of these virtual running events.
Check out the Race at Your Pace running challenges here!
Run 2023 km in 2023
If you really want to make 2023 special, you can commit to running 2023 kilometers this year. This is 1,257 miles, which breaks down to about 24 miles a week. This challenge is significantly more attainable than running 2023 miles in the year, yet still provides quite a challenge. If you’re looking for a way to stay consistent and motivated with your mileage this year, this challenge is for you!
Check out Running 2023 km in 2023 here!
The cancellation of in-person races forced runners to think outside the box, and is continuing to be a wonderful source of motivation. While virtual running events may not bring the same level of support as those packed city streets, they provide us with a unique opportunity to really test our mental strength and determination on our own.
While 2021 certainly had its fair share of low moments, it’s never to soon to turn things around in the 2022 and add some positive memories to the mix in this new year. Try one or many of these virtual running challenges to remember your training this year!