at the races 10 Great Virtual Races to Try This Weekend

10 Great Virtual Races to Try This Weekend


Let us all rejoice, finally, that the good weather is here. We’ve made it 70 days through the quarantine and if you’re in decent mental and physical health and can find some “me” time this weekend, it seems like an opportune chance to try a virtual race (though “run” is more the speed we’ll be attempting). Clearly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be back doing the real thing anytime soon, so let’s peer into Canada’s top 10 virtual options, plus one bonus race that people are talking about set, for some reason, in Tennessee.

10. Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

Our friend Natasha Wodak has been posting images all week from great Ottawa Race Weekends of year’s past—hard to believe Canada’s largest race isn’t going on this year, but, a las, there’s something you can do. With customized bibs, finisher’s medals and shirts, and virtual race distances ranging from 2K to 42.2K, there’s something for everyone (including the heat, a staple of the country’s largest run). (ps: Natasha’s pictured below with that great Canadian treasure, Emily Setlack).

9. Under Armour Spring Run-Off

One of the first races of the season, thus one of the first races to go virtual, this event put on by Canada Running Series is sponsored by Under Armour, hence participants get a free UA shirt and 25% UA discount code for racing. Distances are 8K or 5K—High Park hills in Toronto are optional, just please practice social distancing.

8. Sportstats Virtual Triathlon

Let’s root, root, root for the home team, plus, some of you keeners are probably triathletes or else have already virtual-raced and are looking for the next new thing. Enter: an event with sprint, Olympic and half triathlon options, and free coaching from Lance Watson, who has four times coached our Canadian Olympians. There’s prizes, and an option to re-enter your finishing times if you get faster as you go; this weekend, why not begin a new adventure?

7. BMO Vancouver Marathon

Is this the prettiest race in the country? The one that hurts the most to miss? Pundits will debate that for ages, but for now: let’s try the next best thing and gets shirts and medals for competing in the marathon, half marathon or 8K. Love you, Vancouver, please don’t all congregate at the Seawall! We promise we will see you in-person next year.

6. 5K Strava Challenge

June 3 is Global Running Day and already lululemon, working with Strava, has opened registration for both their 5K and the SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon. Rob Watson, pictured below, handsome 4-time Canadian marathon champion, has designed a half marathon training program and finally we can all try one of those fancy lululemon events that usually sell out faster than tickets to a Carly Rae Jepson show.

5. Virtual Butter Tart 5 and 10K

Our friends at VR Pro are industry pioneers in virtual races, perfecting the concept with their Santa Runs while the rest of us were still setting up our booths at race expos. 5K, 10K, and 1K races, plus, they send everything you need to your doorstep: for $40, you get a T-shirt, medal and bib. Good job, Kelly, as always.

4. The Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000K

America’s greatest export since Willie Nelson, this event has captured the hearts and minds of runners all over the world: a chance to accumulate kilometres as you cross the great state of Tennessee. On this week’s iRun podcast, Mark Sutcliffe talks all about the event with participants, listen here.

3. The Isolation Run for Health Care Workers

It’s free to run and there is no finish line and the Isolation Run for Health Care Workers has already raised $10,000. Any distance. Any location. If you’re a runner, and you’re healthy, you’re in a privileged position at a difficult time: why not use your passion to help others, especially those working for all of us on the front lines?

2. The May 50K for MS

Along those same lines, we all know how hard charities have been hit with all of the event cancellations and Canada has a disproportionate number of MS cases. The walk or 50K run for MS can also be done anywhere, at any time, at any speed, and benefits a charity that hits close to home. I lost my sister-in-law to MS and will be lacing up for everyone who suffers from this horrible disease this weekend (25K Saturday, 25K Sunday—who else is in?)

1. The Flapjack 15K

One of the many things we’ll miss this summer is the great Calgary Stampede, but we can still celebrate the wide-open spirit of the west, especially before next weekend, when the Calgary Marathon opens up their virtual suite of races. 15K is just such a fun distance. Feel free to eat all of the pancakes after you’re done.

Thank you everybody for reading. Let’s all stay safe, practice social distancing, run alone on paths that aren’t crowded, and generally do our part in this difficult time to spread peace, empathy and love.