What Is A Virtual 5K Race?

What Is A Virtual 5K Race?

In simple terms, a Virtual 5K is 5K race that you complete in your own time, wherever you like. 
However, there is a cut off date, which means you have to complete your 5K run and submit your time before the deadline expires. 

So how do you actually complete a virtual 5K?

Option 1 – For Free Using the Strava App (Recommended)

The best way is definitely through the running App Strava. They literally setup a virtual 5K pretty much every month. Here are some screenshots from January 2019 and February 2019. There are tonnes of entries, so it’s safe to say that Strava will keep running these 5k challenges on a monthly basis.

Option 2 – For about $20 through VirtualRunEvents.com 

Even though there is a cost to this particular option, there are also some unique benefits.

  • Benefit 1  – Race T-Shirts
  • Benefit 2 – Race Medals

Can you do a virtual 5k on a treadmill?

This depends. 
Strava doesn’t allow you to complete your 5K race on a treadmill. 

On the other hand, VirtualRunEvents.com does. 
Personally, I don’t think treadmill running should be allowed, purely because no two treadmills are alike, and running at a 0% gradient on a treadmill (ie no incline) is physically easier than running outdoors (you have to switch the treadmill to 1% gradient in order to properly simulate outdoor running). 

How fit do you have to be to complete a virtual 5K?

To run the full 5k’s without stopping you will need to be reasonably fit. If you’re still building your fitness levels, it might be better to follow the couch to 5k training plan, or simply give yourself a few weeks to build up the fitness needed for a 5K. 

Do you have to be fast to run a virtual race?

Nope. Even though there are plenty of super fast people that join these events on Strava, you don’t have to be Mo Farah to participate. 
The main point is to challenge yourself and improve your fitness. Both of these objectives are pretty much guaranteed when you sign up.

How do you see your results?

With Strava, your time will automatically be added to all the other results for the virtual race. Once you sync with the app, you will be able to see exactly where you placed on the global leaderboard. 
A quick word of caution – Some of the athletes on Strava are basically professional. Don’t get bleak if you don’t place as high as you might like. 
If you do the virtual 5K through a portal like VirtualRunEvents, your time will be pooled together with all the other contestants and the race organizers will send you a link where you can view them all. Here is an example of what this looks like:

Do you have to use an app to run a virtual 5K race?

Technically you don’t, but it’s a lot cheaper (ie free) and more convenient if you do. 

What about my finishing medal? 🥇

With Strava (and other apps) you get a virtual badge when you complete the race. This might not seem like a big deal, but you would be surprised by how addictive it can be to collect virtual badges. At the moment, I use Strava and the Nike Running App to collect as many as I possibly can (5k races are just one of many badges that you can earn through these apps).
On the other hand, VirtualRunEvents actually ships finishing medals to all contestants, but there is a fee. So if you are desperate for that finisher’s medal, be prepared to whip out that credit card. 

Final Thoughts:

It should be pretty clear from the name of this website that I’m a strong believer in the health benefits of 5K Running. The only thing left to do is sign-up one for one these virtual 5K’s. There’s no reason to delay. Sign-up on Strava, lace up your shoes and get out there!