virtual race season, take two. maybe.

Sunday Runday, and on our morning ten kilometer trail run everyone seem to want to talk racing season.

Except there is no racing season.

Twenty-twenty-one is a racing write off.

Or… it would be if it wasn’t for virtual races.

Virtual racing. Oh, those virtual races. And why?

Last year as the pandemic picked up its pace, another one of those little oh-yeah-and-that-too inconveniences was the cancellation of a bunch of running races. I was registered to run at least four big races, including the 2020 Chicago Marathon.

None of them happened.

Well, none of them happened as planned.

Over the course of the summer, as the clock ticked onward, each race in turn became a virtual race instead of a real one. No, we can’t bring five thousand athletes together on a crowded street, so, here’s what we’re gonna do instead…

Keep the spirit. Run the distance. Submit your time. Get a shirt and a medal in the mail. Virtual racing was the consolation prize for a lost season.

And I too ran a few virtual runs. A trio of half marathons. A few ten-k socially distant weekend excuses to meet up with my friends and celebrate… something. I don’t know exactly what or why, but hanging onto something seemed important.

Winter came and went.

Then the emails started appearing…

“Such and such is going virtual this year.”

“Join us for a virtual race.”

“We can’t run together but we can race virtually!”

The dissonance rings in my heart something like this: I want to race and support the races but I’m finding it tough to reconcile another season of pretending. I want to be motivated to train for long races, but paying a hundred dollars or often more to run through my own neighbourhood and get a t-shirt and a medal through the mail doesn’t seem like the way. Not this year. I want back that feeling of participating but I’m done settling for participating from afar. And I would rather delay bigger gratification for a while if the only other option is a virtual one.

On our morning ten kilometer trail run everyone seem to want to talk racing season because a bunch of them have been signing up for local and international virtual races. I’m going to keep running with them, but unless something dramatically changes I think my next race season will be 2022.