I think I first heard of “virtual” races roughly about three of four years ago, maybe sometime in 2016. As far as I know, they were a bit of a novel idea at the time and not by any means common. Since then, especially in the last year or so, it seems they are growing in number and becoming more common as stand alone events and offered more frequently as “virtual” options for existing and established “in-person” events.
I have to admit, when I first heard of “virtual” races, I wasn’t an immediate fan. Mainly because I didn’t see the need for them personally. I always thought “I’m motivated enough to get out and do my training runs for trail races so why should I register to run a virtual event?” I quickly came to realize that one could use the reverse reasoning of my argument and thereby show the need and value of virtual events for anyone that could use a bit more motivation to get out the door and get some miles. One of the benefits of being a BibRave Pro is that it offers the opportunity to try new products, or in this case races, that I likely would not have tried otherwise. I’ve never been critical of virtual events, but now that I am partaking in one I’m hoping I’ll learn more benefits they may offer beyond just the motivation factor.
The inaugural 465 Virtual Challenge asks participants to cover the distance of Interstate 465 (USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway) which encircles Indianapolis, Indiana covering a distance of approximately 53 miles. The event runs from January 1st through February 29th allowing ample time for athletes of all levels to complete it. The challenge isn’t strictly for runners. Any type of self propelled activity counts towards the 53 mile distance challenge. As the 465 Challenge website states, you can “run, bike, walk, swim, or skip” your way to the finish line.
And if you hit the 53 mile goal prior to the end of the two month event, don’t stop there. The event offers special recognition for any participants who complete multiple virtual loops around I-465! As of now (about one month into the event) I’m at just over two loops and hope to complete two more before the end of the event.