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Jane Holt Virtual Runner

Confessions of a Virtual Runner

The global pandemic has put paid to the spring and summer race season with events postponed or cancelled until 2021. However, there is a way of getting your racing ‘fix’ – virtual challenges. Many of these challenges support the NHS and other associated charities and I have become addicted to them (writes runABC's Jane Holt)...

I had heard of virtual events before this crisis but hadn’t given them much thought as I was focused on the regular race diary. Coronavirus changes everything – no races, no parkrun and no gym!

The solution was staring me in the face as I read posts on Facebook about virtual challenges organised by race companies such as Its Grim Up North Running (IGUN), See York Run York, Time2Run Events UK and Mash Running to name but a few.

Those race organisers and many ohers have adapted in the current climate by organising virtual challenges that adhere to government guidelines about daily exercise and social distancing and for me, have been a form of healthy escapism. Fun, friendly and ideal as a short term goal and you get a cracking medal in return.

There is a range of distances and in many cases a theme, such as ‘Red, White and Blue’ from IGUN and ‘Running the Alphabet’ from See York Run York and plenty of support and encouragement between those taking part who along with me, enjoy seeing the routes chosen and selfies uploaded.

I completed one virtual challenge that had to be done at home. The ‘Virtual Rainbow Home Run’ involved four distances – 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon and could be run as laps around your garden with proceeds going to the NHS. I opted for the ‘Garden Gallop 10K’ and ran numerous laps around the outside of my house and driveway to achieve 6.2 miles and received an unusual jigsaw medal as a reward.

I have run these events at an easy pace but there have been two virtual races where I pushed myself to the limit. The ‘Open One Mile Challenge’ and ‘Open 30 Minute Hill Challenge’ were organised by John Danahay of High Performance Runner. The first one required you to run as fast as you can over a mile; the second involved running up and down a hill as many times possible for 30 minutes. Good for testing your lockdown fitness levels and seeing how you compared against others and in my case, the lack of interval training showed in the open one mile challenge. Pain was not temporary...

As I type this I have completed the Virtual VE Day event from IGUN and ‘Stay at Home Staveley’ (10K) organised by Lakeland Trails. I have also entered Nice Work’s Hurricane 80K Challenge which is a work in progress.

These are enjoyable and realistic events and for me, the support and camaraderie has been second to none. The running community has come together to beat the lockdown blues and long may it continue...along with my growing list of virtual challenges.

Image courtesy of Jane Holt

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