10 Virtual Runs To Get You Through The Summer

Find some motivation—and earn some cool swag—with these summer run virtual races. If you're sick of running, there's also a unique swim option that will give you some purpose in the water.

Photo: James Mitchell

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You’ve no doubt seen your first (and maybe second and third) race date come and go. No matter what level of athlete you are, the inspiration is likely starting to fade. Virtual running races aren’t the same, we know. But it still can be fun to have something to get you out the door each morning. They also provide a unique opportunity to connect with a community you might otherwise never have. Here we provide several virtual options to keep you chasing your goals this summer.

Virtual Running Races to Help You Stay Motivated in Summer 2020

5K of Pure Fun: Challenge Women Virtual Run powered by Garmin

Based out of: Roth, Germany
July 4/5, 2020
Distance: 5K
Cost: 10 Euro for a virtual package, 20 Euro for a goodie bag

Every July as part of Challenge Roth, more than 2,000 women line up for the 5K Challenge run during race week. While the full-distance triathlon has been canceled, organizers have pivoted the 5K women’s event into a virtual race. Women have 24 hours to complete the 5K starting at 10 a.m. CET (1 a.m. PST/4 a.m. EST) on Saturday, July 4. This one is unique in that it has an app that will allow everyone to follow along and participate live. On Sunday at 12 p.m. CET (3 a.m. PDT/6 a.m. EDT) there will be an award ceremony, which not only honors the fastest runners but also the most beautiful photos shared throughout the event. There will also be a special category for all Garmin users with prizes from Garmin. You can sign up for the “virtual” package, but race organizers have confirmed they’ll be shipping the goodie bags internationally as well. Dreamed of racing Roth? Yeah, this isn’t quite that—we know. But it’s still pretty cool.

‘I Left My Heart in San F(run)cisco Virtual 5K/10K/Half/Full’

Based out of: San Francisco, Calif.
Submit by July 26
Distance: 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon
Cost: $45 (individual events) or $75 (49er Challenge)

This event from Run Club SF is already ongoing, but you have until the end of July to become a part of it. Every finisher of any distance will receive a t-shirt and a “woodallion.” Those who are brave enough to take on every race (named the 49er Challenge) between now and the end of July will also receive a technical trucker and a buff. 

Lululemon SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon

Based out of: Greater Vancouver, Canada
Aug. 15-23
Distance: Half-marathon
Cost: $28

If you’ve ever wanted to compete in the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon out of Vancouver, here’s your chance—kind of. If you’re struggling to stay motivated to run, this one is pretty cool in that it includes a 14-week training plan. Record a single run activity totaling 13.1 miles on Strava between Aug. 15-23 and you’ll receive a finisher medal and a Strava badge. 

4th of July Smashfest

Based out of: Tucson, Arizona
July 4
Distance: 4 mile, 8 mile, kids’ mile
Cost: $50

Since we’ll be missing out on our annual 4th of July running races, Smashfest Queen has decided to put on a virtual running race for all. In addition to a pretty cool singlet or shirt (or tank for the kids), each entry will contribute 10 meals to kids in need via No Kid Hungry. There are also opportunities to win prize packs from the race’s sponsors. If you’re looking to complete the look, you can purchase a matching pair of race shorts or a sports bra.

Great American 5,000

June 14 – Sept. 14
Distance: 5,000K (3,107 miles)
Cost: $50/person (Each team member must pay. Teams can be made up of 12 or 24.)

This one will require you to gather some friends! The virtual run spans the distance from San Francisco to New York, with a timeframe of June 14 to Sept. 14 to complete the distance. Teams of 12 or 24 (or anything in between) chip away at the 3,107-mile adventure. An online map will track the progress from coast to coast and a leaderboard will display the leaders. Categories are made up of open, female, and co-ed options. The math adds up to as few as 33.4 miles per day for the team. You can register anytime between now and July 31, but you’ll want to register sooner than later to give your team the best chance to complete the distance. Finishers receive a medal and virtual finisher’s badge. You’ll also get a “virtual travel experience” with facts and photos of the things you would see along the route.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Club

Based out of: Tampa, Florida
Cost: Free

We’ve written about the Ironman Virtual Club before, but if you’d rather keep it simple with running races then their Rock ’n’ Roll Series as an option as well. The club is free to join and races vary in distance from weekend to weekend. (For example, last weekend’s VR6 offered options varying from 1 mile to a half-marathon.) You get a badge and as you accumulate credits, you’ll be able to “spend” them. Most provide the opportunity to get discounts on club partner’s gear. Each event offers the opportunity to purchase gear, like a finisher’s medal, tech shirt, and mask. 

Running Is NOT Cancelled

Based out of: Sacramento, Calif.
Through 2020
Distance: 5K, 10K, half-marathon
Cost: $25

This series, presented by Fleet Feet, is an ongoing effort to keep runners motivated through 2020. This one’s pretty simple. Complete any of the distances, upload proof to the site, and then celebrate. Finishers get a bib, a commemorative t-shirt, and a finisher’s medal.

Summer Solstice Virtual 5K or Firecracker Virtual 5K

Based out of: Windermere, Florida
June 20 or July 4
Distance: 5K
Cost: $18

Celebrate the longest day of the year or 4th of July with a 5K out of Florida. Your race bib will be emailed to you and then you’ll get a medal in the mail upon completion. 

Virtual Wharf to Wharf Race

Based out of: Capitola, California
July 20-26
Distance: 6 miles
Cost: $35

The popular Wharf to Wharf race has transitioned into a virtual affair for 2020. For $35 you get an event t-shirt, personalized bib number, free training plan, and a virtual Wharf sticker. The first 7,000 registrants also receive a large canister of Nuun and guaranteed access to 2021 Wharf to Wharf race registration. If you want to make it a family event, there’s also a kids’ option for $25 — kids can complete the six miles at once or over the course of several days. That registration will get you a kids’ medal, a personalized bib, and a kids’ sticker pack.

Quarantine Backyard Ultra

July 11, 2020
Distance: How far can you go?
Cost: Free

Let us preface this one by saying that it’s a tad insane. In this “ultra” event, you run 4.167 miles every hour until you can’t anymore. Back in April, the field started at 2,413 athletes and ended with Mike Warden going 262.5 miles over 63 hours. Want to read more about the insanity? Check out this article from PodiumRunner.

If Running’s Not Your Thing…

If you’re tired of running (and virtual races in general), this unique swim-focused option might be perfect for you.

The Great Big Virtual Swim

Based out of: Southern Wisconsin
May 27-July 8
Distance: 26.2 miles (46,112 yards)
Cost: $30

If you’re finally back in the pool or open water and want a little extra challenge, this one is for you. Wisconsin-based pro and coach Jackie Herring came up with the idea as a way to get triathletes motivated as they get back in the water and support a local cause. Everyone who registers will get a shirt and finishers will get a medal. Record your swim progress as you go and prizes will be given each week. All proceeds go to Feeding America/The Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.

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