One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to get back in shape. I started running again on January 3rd and by the end of the month I had signed up for six races! Unfortunately, the soonest one is in May and I needed a little motivational push. This is why I looked into Virtual Challenges!
Updated virtual race blog post with more options and info: https://thetravelbugbite.com/2021/01/02/virtual-runs/
I first discovered Virtual Challenges via a Facebook advertisement. They showed these intricate amazing medals and had a variety of challenges to win them. The first company I looked into was Medal Mad.
Medal Mad is based in the UK and has an incredible variety of medals. The one that drew my eye and made me discover them was the Monopoly one for 225 km.
They also have a lot of shorter challenges including 5k. The way these virtual challenges work is via an app. Once you sign up for a medal, you download an app to track your progress. Some companies are trust-based while others require photos of your progress. Many also sync to smart watches or other phone apps that track your fitness.
These amazing medals only cost 13.5 British Pounds which is around $17.5. They ship them world wide and the medals arrive after you achieve your goals. They have a Facebook group to keep you motivated and in touch with other participants!
I ended up joining the Conqueror to begin with. The reason is silly, the featured medal in the Facebook ad was for swimming and had octopus tentacles. It is for 21 miles and it is a medal that I am confident I can easily achieve since I am swim-crazy.
The Conqueror offers less medals than Medal Mad, but they have tougher challenges. Route 66 has 2,280 miles that you need to walk, run or bike! They also have a conquer 2020 medal that lets you set the goal yourself. I am hoping to do 2020 km but I’ve seen people go for as few as 42 km and as many as 10,000 miles!
The medals for the Conqueror all cost $30 (23 GBP). Once you buy one, you get 20% off your next. You can also get a discount if you refer friends. As soon as I signed up, I got an email with the link to the app store and a Facebook link to a private group for people participating in challenges.
It has been hard not signing up for all the other medals with all the motivational posts from fellow members. I am hoping to sign up for at least two more and it already motivated me to hit the gym extra hard.
Virtual Challenges vs Real Races
I would still opt for a real race over virtual challenges any day. Why? The adrenaline rush, seeing real people run/challenge themselves alongside you and the after party with other participants.
The great thing about virtual challenges is that you can go at your own pace. You still get lots of support and get to chat with other people doing the same thing. Also, it is a LOT cheaper. You don’t have to pay for insurance costs and all the races have the same cost.
I am waiting for pay day to sign up for a triathlon that costs $150. That could pay for five virtual races! If you get as addicted to signing up for races as I am, you could save a lot of money if you go for the virtual ones.
I can’t speak for other support groups, but the Conqueror’s one is amazing and pushes me every day. At a physical race, people focus more on the actual day. Virtual races, especially those with long-distance goals, are huge on daily progress and mutual support.
No matter how long January felt, 2020 has only just begun! It is not too late to sign up for races, virtual or not. Let’s conquer 2020. Speaking of which, here’s the medal that you can customize for your unique 2020 goal. If you’ve been tracking your workouts, you can even backtrack and add what you have already achieved!
For some great free apps to make the most of 2020, check out this article.
Other Virtual Runs and Races
- US Road Running: Virtual Races
- Virtual Brew Run 5k: Shirt, Glass & Medal for $25
- Social Distancing Run: Virtual Marathon Training Academy Race
- Run Motivators: Pizza, Pizza! 40K Challenge
- Amerithon: 3,521 Miles for a 6-Piece Medal
- Yes.Fit – Virtual Fitness Challenges
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So you would recommend it? I want to do the Camino in real life some day. Cannot do it this year, I am sure. So I thought the virtual pictures would be fun.
Yes for sure! It’s been a great motivation during these trying times. And they show you a map of where you are based on your progress which is fun. The app for tracking is very basic but you get used to it.
I’m looking for conquer 2020, you don’t know anyone who would sell this medal.
I’m too attached to mine but you could try asking in the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1537307426580946/?ref=share