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10 Virtual Races That Explore the World – from Home

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Satisfy your wanderlust and get moving.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventure traveller stuck at home or just looking for inspiration for your first 5K or 10K run, virtual races can help fill a pandemic‑related void by making you work toward a mutual goal with people around the world. These particular virtual running races have ties to different countries, so you can run “across” Alberta or the Great Barrier Reef and win themed rewards at the end.

March 4, 2021

Canada

A white lighthouse with a small house attached situated in a grassy Canadian field
   Photo: Scott Walsh

The Great Canadian Crossing

There are plenty of virtual races in Canada to choose from, but the Great Canadian Crossing is unique because it sets its distances based on the span of different provinces or territories. You can choose to run, walk or ride (for example, 927 kilometres for British Columbia or 764 kilometres for Quebec) or even attempt to cross the entire country (a whopping 4,800 kilometres). You’ll track your race in the fitness tracking app Strava and, once you finish your distance and post your time, receive a wooden medallion in the mail.

  • Distances: From 128 kilometres (for Prince Edward Island) to 4,800 kilometres (all of Canada)

  • Fee: $65 for one province; $85 for all of Canada

  • Dates: Register before June 30, 2021, and start any time. Must finish by June 30, 2021

United States

A running sprinting through the mountainous desert of the United States
   Photo: Brian Erickson

Amerithon

Essentially the American version of the Great Canadian Crossing, Amerithon by Run the Edge is a virtual race across the United States. You can rack up your miles by exercising any way you choose, then manually enter your stats in the online tracker or sync it to your Garmin, Fitbit, Apple Watch or Strava. Each race package comes with 36 interactive flyover videos (watch an example), milestone badges and e‑mails to keep your motivation up. You can even upgrade your package to get medals, a T‑shirt and a wall map.

  • Distance: 3,521 miles (5,666.5 kilometres) that can be split with up to eight people on a team

  • Fee: US$30, US$50 or US$75 based on the package you choose

  • Dates: Start and finish any time

The Cloud Gate public sculpture in Chicago
   Photo: Dayne Topkin

Run for 5 Cities Challenge

If you like your runs with a touch of philanthropy, you’ll love this virtual race that supports charities fighting poverty and hunger in five American cities: Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco. Your package comes with five race bibs and finisher medals designed to represent each of the five cities. Complete your chosen distance (from 25 kilometres up to 100 miles) at any time and track it with Fitbit, Strava or Map My Run.

  • Distances: 25 kilometres, 50 kilometres or 100 miles (160.93 kilometres)

  • Fee: US$100

  • Dates: Start and finish any time

Mexico

Copper Canyon in Mexico
   Photo: Jens Uhlenbrock

Carrera Virtual Tarahumara

Indigenous to the Copper Canyon in Mexico, the Tarahumara are a group of people known for their running abilities. The supposed record? 700 kilometres in 48 hours. Now you can run virtually alongside real Tarahumara Indígenas and see how you stack up. This race, which features medals hand‑carved by the locals, supports their population in areas of nutrition, water, security and education.

  • Distances: 5 kilometres, 10 kilometres, half‑marathon or marathon

  • Fee: $39

  • Dates: Register by March 18, 2021, and run March 20 or 21, 2021

Peru

Hiking the Inca Trail of Peru
   Photo: Erik Ringsmuth

Inca Trail Virtual Challenge

The 42‑kilometre Inca Trail runs right through Machu Picchu, an ancient Peruvian city that was hidden to the world for centuries. Now you can track your progress as you run, walk, bike or swim the trail from wherever you live in the world. The challenge allows you to follow your location on the app, explore the trail on Street View as you move, and unlock virtual postcards throughout the journey. You’ll also receive a medal at the end.

And if you want more options, the Conqueror has over a dozen other challenges, including the English Channel, Mount Everest and Route 66.

  • Distance: 42 kilometres

  • Fee: US$30 or US$60

  • Dates: Start and finish any time

Iceland

The snowy mountain peaks of Iceland's Laugavegur Trail
   Photo: Philip Lindberg

Laugavegur Trail Virtual Challenge

Calling all Game of Thrones fans! You can now trek Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail – virtually, of course. As you map your progress in the Pacer app, you’ll unlock new checkpoints and get to know Iceland (including spots like rocky Emstrur, mirror‑like Alftavatn Lake and mountainous Landmannalaugar) from the comfort of your home country. With your entry fee, you’ll receive a printable e‑certificate, finisher’s medal and access to video workouts and stretches through the Pacer app.

Additional challenges from Pacer include Niagara Falls, Easter Island and the Great Wall.

  • Distance: 80 kilometres

  • Fee: $35

  • Dates: Start and finish any time

France

A street intersection in Paris, France
   Photo: J. Shim

Paris: Feel the Spring

If you need a short, clear‑cut race window to feel motivated, virtual races that last only one day could be the best fit for you. While this Paris run doesn’t have the virtual checkpoints, postcards or perks of some of the other challenges on this list, it does include a gorgeous medal with rotating Eiffel Tower that you’ll receive upon completion of your chosen distance. Plus, you’ll have access to a portal with a ranking list, which is ideal if you’re the competitive type.

  • Distances: 5 kilometres, 10 kilometres, half‑marathon or marathon

  • Fee: $39

  • Dates: April 11, 2021

Thailand

A baby elephant by a stream of water, surrounded by trees in Thailand
   Photo: Raissa Lara

Elephants in Thailand

Another virtual race with a philanthropy angle, Yes.Fit’s Elephants in Thailand challenge donates a portion of its proceeds to the International Elephant Foundation. You can either track your distance using the brand’s app or connect to your favourite fitness tracking app like Strava or Moov. Choose from rewards such as an elephant medal, coin, T‑shirt or tank top, which will ship once your distance is complete.

  • Distance: 30.9 miles (50 kilometres)

  • Fee: From US$17 (depending on the rewards you order), plus US$10 for international shipping

  • Dates: Start and finish any time

Japan

A narrow residential street lined with house in Japan
   Photo: Risto Kokkonen

Tokyo to Osaka

The Tokyo‑to‑Osaka challenge is perfect for groups. Teams of up to four people essentially run a relay with team runners anywhere in the world. Your clock starts as soon as you hit “start race” and only ends once your team has logged 672 kilometres – the distance from Tokyo to Osaka. Throughout the challenge, you can check Street View to see your location, receive e‑mails when you pass landmarks, earn digital badges and be entered in draws for prizes.

  • Distance: 672 kilometres

  • Fee: US$60 per team (up to four runners)

  • Dates: Starts at 3 a.m. PST on March 13, 2021, and you can finish at any time

Australia

The Great Barrier Reef off the sandy shores of Australia
   Photo: Manny Moreno

Great Barrier Reef

Run, walk, swim or skate your way across the world’s largest coral‑reef system with the Great Barrier Reef challenge – and go at your own pace. You have until the end of the year to complete the 230‑kilometre distance (the equivalent of 5.45 marathons) by logging your progress manually or tracking with Strava, Garmin, Fitbit, Polar, Suunto or Coros. With your entry fee, you’ll receive a downloadable bib and reef medal covered in cartoon depictions of ocean life.

  • Distance: 230 kilometres

  • Fee: $25

  • Dates: Must finish by December 31, 2021