Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on hello@boards.ie for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact hello@boards.ie

Virtual Marathons/ races, are they going to stay?

Options
  • 27-10-2020 11:01am
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,092 Mod ✭✭✭✭


    Until 2020 a virtual race basically involved running a random distance at a time and place of your choosing and paying someone to post you a medal as far as I could tell. Not at all interested in that kind of "race", but can see why that type of motivation would work for some people.

    Now we've had a season of zero racing in any real sense, but lots of variations on how to try to create some kind of something similar.

    There were virtual championships setup in the UK to replace the national road relays, and these included various rules on type of course to keep them relatively similar as much as possible such as not being too many laps (so as not to confuse GPS), not being point to point and not having more than a certain amount of elevation drop. It got peoples interest early on in the lockdown (at least those towards the pointier end of club running and also seemed to get some of the people from clubs taking part who'd not normally be on the team bus to run around Sutton Park in Birmingham feeling like they could be involved too).
    Great idea put together in short time and great system behind it, can't see it still being done this way in the future though as the moment there is any kind of actual race those people will be back to racing real people again.

    There have then been some variations of virtual marathons, with Berlin doing a challenge to see how far you could run in 2hrs, Dublin giving you three days to run one of a variety of distances, and London saying that you could take 24hours to do it in as many goes as you liked but also using the virtual event as a qualification for their next "real" event. I did both London and Dublin and they were both interesting. Did Dublin because I wanted to throw them some money to ensure the event still existed next year, did London because I had to in order to retain my entry. Both apps were equally dodgy, although both worked adequately for me.
    London posted out race numbers for everyone and whilst I didn't wear mine as I was running an actual event* for my virtual London, from driving through my town afterwards and to meet some friends who were running their virtual event a bit later in the day there was loads of people out wearing the numbers and getting loads of support from the general public on what was an awful day for the weather. It was a good few ideas they had to make the virtual event work and I think they did very well, making GFA runners race a time was still stupid though.
    Have heard loads of people saying they enjoyed it, but despite those people then saying they should do it every year I really can't see how it would work if there is an actual London or Dublin event going on at the same time, the people that want to race the real event will be doing that, and can't see the same atmosphere being created again. It worked because it was a one off.

    *Then there are the actual in person events which are happening, but are not really races. I've done a couple of them, one where we started in groups of 6 at 1 minute intervals and then ran 15km around a mountain. Was OK, was good to run hard, but you are not racing anyone as you are just in a random group of other people in your start group of 6. It happened there was someone of a similar standard to me in my group so we had a bit of a race at the end, but was all entirely fake racing.
    Then there is the pure time trial that I did for my virtual London, as I wanted a water station and measured course. Wasn't a race in the slightest, although catching and overtaking people towards the end is a great motivation to keep you going those people who I crossed the line seconds in front of were in reality 10's of minutes behind me in the "race". Again not real racing.

    Obviously we all hope to be back to proper racing asap, but is there any aspect of the virtual events such as Dublin that anyone liked and would want to see exist after this is all over, and is it likely that anything will actually be kept from what we've had this year?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,649 ✭✭✭rovers_runner


    robinph wrote: »
    Until 2020 a virtual race basically involved running a random distance at a time and place of your choosing and paying someone to post you a medal as far as I could tell. Not at all interested in that kind of "race", but can see why that type of motivation would work for some people.

    Now we've had a season of zero racing in any real sense, but lots of variations on how to try to create some kind of something similar.

    There were virtual championships setup in the UK to replace the national road relays, and these included various rules on type of course to keep them relatively similar as much as possible such as not being too many laps (so as not to confuse GPS), not being point to point and not having more than a certain amount of elevation drop. It got peoples interest early on in the lockdown (at least those towards the pointier end of club running and also seemed to get some of the people from clubs taking part who'd not normally be on the team bus to run around Sutton Park in Birmingham feeling like they could be involved too).
    Great idea put together in short time and great system behind it, can't see it still being done this way in the future though as the moment there is any kind of actual race those people will be back to racing real people again.

    There have then been some variations of virtual marathons, with Berlin doing a challenge to see how far you could run in 2hrs, Dublin giving you three days to run one of a variety of distances, and London saying that you could take 24hours to do it in as many goes as you liked but also using the virtual event as a qualification for their next "real" event. I did both London and Dublin and they were both interesting. Did Dublin because I wanted to throw them some money to ensure the event still existed next year, did London because I had to in order to retain my entry. Both apps were equally dodgy, although both worked adequately for me.
    London posted out race numbers for everyone and whilst I didn't wear mine as I was running an actual event* for my virtual London, from driving through my town afterwards and to meet some friends who were running their virtual event a bit later in the day there was loads of people out wearing the numbers and getting loads of support from the general public on what was an awful day for the weather. It was a good few ideas they had to make the virtual event work and I think they did very well, making GFA runners race a time was still stupid though.
    Have heard loads of people saying they enjoyed it, but despite those people then saying they should do it every year I really can't see how it would work if there is an actual London or Dublin event going on at the same time, the people that want to race the real event will be doing that, and can't see the same atmosphere being created again. It worked because it was a one off.

    *Then there are the actual in person events which are happening, but are not really races. I've done a couple of them, one where we started in groups of 6 at 1 minute intervals and then ran 15km around a mountain. Was OK, was good to run hard, but you are not racing anyone as you are just in a random group of other people in your start group of 6. It happened there was someone of a similar standard to me in my group so we had a bit of a race at the end, but was all entirely fake racing.
    Then there is the pure time trial that I did for my virtual London, as I wanted a water station and measured course. Wasn't a race in the slightest, although catching and overtaking people towards the end is a great motivation to keep you going those people who I crossed the line seconds in front of were in reality 10's of minutes behind me in the "race". Again not real racing.

    Obviously we all hope to be back to proper racing asap, but is there any aspect of the virtual events such as Dublin that anyone liked and would want to see exist after this is all over, and is it likely that anything will actually be kept from what we've had this year?


    It's what you miss though.

    The community atmosphere.
    The sense you have to produce a performance at a date/time on a shared route.
    Running with your peers, towards the end of a long distance race slugging it out together.
    The finish line, a real finish line... How I miss the sight of them.

    Apples and oranges really so the virtual thing is only to fill the vacuum.


  • Registered Users Posts: 926 ✭✭✭Jakey Rolling


    Likewise I have baulked previously at the idea of running a virtual race and receiving a medal/t-shirt. I mean, you cant replicate Connemarathon or Trim 10 miler in your back yard!

    However have done a couple of virtual events over the summer, as you say it puts some money into the coffers of race organisers, so that hopefully they'll still be in business when normality returns. At which point there's not a hope in hell I'll be signing up for any virtual race bling!

    There does seem to be a market for this type of thing though, and obviously lots of newcomers to the idea this year, so I can see it being a side-offering for many races in the future.

    100412.2526@compuserve.com



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,576 ✭✭✭Reg'stoy


    Did a couple of virtual races in the last few months, from 5K's, 10K's a virtual 1/2 and a 250K lap of Kildare. I followed a specific training program for the 1/2 which I would have done anyway and I'm now following a program for doing a fast (for me) 10K in 46mins via my garmin watch.

    I will say that I found the 1/2 tough, skipping around people on paths, finding a route to do and finally just running by myself. The 250K lap of Kildare I did as a challenge to my self and so did 10K a day and actually finished it in 24 days. That I enjoyed but it was hard and some days I walked the 10K as I was just too tired to run it. A 'friend' just totalled all his daily steps, converted them to distance and logged that as his effort for the day, I didn't accuse him of cheating per say, but I did ask him where the challenge was for him. There in lies the problem with virtual races, the honour system of posting times. I read on the Marathon thread how someone had improved their time by an hour 20mins with the implication being they 'doctored' their time.

    The earlier races I did insisted that you provide proof of your time and they verified it and then it was posted. The last virtual 10K I did just required you to put in a time and if you wanted post proof of same. My fear is that if virtual events continue, that people will just be buying medals and in particular the t-shirts to say they did a particular race or distance and either not running at all or been generous with their timings. Doesn't personally bother me, but I did feel my friend was taking the piss because I knew he just wanted the medal and t-shirt.

    I don't think I could personally do a full marathon by myself, was running down in Naas the weekend and saw what were probably some people doing their virtual races and some looked to be suffering. I gave them the nod or thumbs up but that is not the same as the shared pain and companionship of a big race. I don't agree with breaking the distance over a number of days unless of course it's a virtual ring of kerry/lap of Kildare type challenge.

    I can see a market opening up for these type of events as there is money to be made and to be honest if you could never afford to run the Tokyo Marathon, Boston or New York; would running them virtually be the next best thing? Hell I could see people doing a race on a treadmill with a set of VR goggles on and getting the experience of at least the actual course around the city you are doing the virtual race of. I imagine the technology is there to lower and raise a treadmill to simulate a course so is it that not close enough to the real thing.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,092 Mod ✭✭✭✭robinph


    There is definitely something that the big structures of a Marathon Major creating a virtual event did that captured the imagination of a wider spectrum of people than might normally go to the bother of attempting to enter the ballot. I'm not entirely sure what it is that they enabled that can be replicated under normal circumstances though.

    If there is an actual London happening next October, will anyone care about a couple of thousand people who missed out on the ballot running laps of their local park? It worked this year because that was the only option, once racing as normal is back does anyone care about virtual events anymore in sufficient numbers?

    There might be room for a virtual event provider to create an app that does tracking and have something more similar to what the big marathons created for this year, but that isn't really what they are setup for. They just want to sell funny looking medals to you for claiming to have run X distance. There might be something for the likes of Strava to create virtual races and they have the tech to do so already and their challenges are practically than anyway. Could they tap another income stream from those who don't want to pay a monthly fee and charge then a couple of quid a time for taking part in a virtual race? Probably not, but it might get them into another demographic of runner.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,851 ✭✭✭✭average_runner


    robinph wrote: »
    There is definitely something that the big structures of a Marathon Major creating a virtual event did that captured the imagination of a wider spectrum of people than might normally go to the bother of attempting to enter the ballot. I'm not entirely sure what it is that they enabled that can be replicated under normal circumstances though.

    If there is an actual London happening next October, will anyone care about a couple of thousand people who missed out on the ballot running laps of their local park? It worked this year because that was the only option, once racing as normal is back does anyone care about virtual events anymore in sufficient numbers?

    There might be room for a virtual event provider to create an app that does tracking and have something more similar to what the big marathons created for this year, but that isn't really what they are setup for. They just want to sell funny looking medals to you for claiming to have run X distance. There might be something for the likes of Strava to create virtual races and they have the tech to do so already and their challenges are practically than anyway. Could they tap another income stream from those who don't want to pay a monthly fee and charge then a couple of quid a time for taking part in a virtual race? Probably not, but it might get them into another demographic of runner.

    Or maybe do two virtual ones and gain entry the third year. Charge half the price for the virtual.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 29 backofthepack


    I love entering races, the build up, the atmosphere, the people on the sidelines cheering you on, pinning your number on, the multiple race day bathroom trips!

    I did the Virtual Dublin Marathon and while it didn't come close to the real thing there were some definite pros to take away.
    It was lovely to run around my locality, seeing people i knew who gave a wave, lots of other runners doing the same, and the best part, I was washed and in my bed 30 mins after finishing.
    I enjoyed not getting stressed about it, the girls i ran with were the same, we were doing it for the challenge and the training, it wasn't about time (we'd all be in the 4hr to 4.30 bracket).

    We plan to run marathon distance again in December which I would have never considered but knowing it'll be run around where we live and i can collapse into my house when i'm finished is a bit of a security blanket!

    I really really looking forward to races coming back but the virtuals are a decent stop gap.
    And anyone who doctors their time is only fooling themselves.
    I know of a few who have gotten pb's but the course they chose had a very favourable descent let's just say!
    They'll be killing themselves trying to beat it!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,695 ✭✭✭Chivito550


    When all this has passed, I never want to hear the word "virtual" ever again!


Advertisement