Signing up to an online virtual challenge

Signing up to an online virtual challenge

2nd January 2021 2 By Biggsy
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Last Updated on 3rd January 2021

With organisers cancelling running events from March 2020 onwards and very few in sight for 2021 it was time to sign up to a virtual challenge instead! Something to incentivise me to get up off the sofa and return to some form of regular exercise.

A running friend had “mentioned” another friend on Run End to End’s Facebook page and that was sufficient for it to appear in my own news feed. He’d been looking at the Land’s End to John O’Groats virtual challenge route but at 874 miles I thought that was biting off a little more than I could chew.

Out of my 6 marathons I’d only ever managed a maximum 450 miles in training, albeit over just 4 months. But still, 874 miles essentially doubled that and seemed “too” much of a challenge at 17 miles per week.

So flicking through their website I found the ‘South West Coastal Path‘ option with its more achievable 630 mile distance. That’s “just” 12+ miles a week. Well aware there are bound to be weeks where 0 miles will get logged through illness, holidays or sheer “can’t be arsed” lethargy.

South West Coast Path Map
8 miles of 630 done so far! That’s me in the red/orange circle at the top of the map

Also we’d been on a recent trip to Cornwall where we’d driven down the coast from Barnstaple to St Ives. Therefore I’d recognise some of those locations as I followed the anti-clockwise route round to Bournemouth. Re-treading some of my steps as a way of keeping up the interest throughout the coming months. Also 3/4 of the way through the challenge I’ll be gliding past Exeter; my university town for 3 years back in the 1990s.

So how does a virtual challenge work?

After signing up on the Run End to End’s webpage and paying your £29.99 entry fee you sit back, look out for the welcome emails and wait for the event to start. In my case the start date was January 1st 2021. From that date onwards you can search for your name on the leaderboard and consider heading out for your first run.

Submitting your daily results

I imagine each virtual challenge site is slightly different but on this one it simply requires you to submit your daily mileage total in a form on the respective challenge page. This is by way of your personal BIB number, pin and the date of your run. After day one I was already WAYYYY down the leaderboard but my “testing the waters” 2.7 mile jog/run was never going to put me into any serious contention for the lead.

I’d already added myself to the ‘Run End to End’ Strava group so that would be my automatic proof of each walk/run. However as this is an individual virtual challenge you’re only cheating yourself if you add any spurious entries.

Standing by my front door after the first run
Just 627 miles to go then!

Tracking yourself and others

Half the fun is seeing where you are on the map/leaderboard plus seeing where you are compared to everybody else. After every submitted activity you can find yourself on the live mileage map as you inch along the South West Coast Path. This is thanks to the organiser’s bespoke virtual system linked to Google Maps. Anything to keep the motivation going!

What will I get out of all this?

I’m typing this on day 2 of the 2021 challenge having just added a 5.3 mile walk to my total. I’ve inched along from the start point in Somerset’s Minehead and now lie somewhere just above the Porlock Caravan Park!

In less than 365 days time I’ll have hopefully traversed Devon and Cornwall and my map marker will be sitting at Dorset’s Studland, overlooking the fancy houses on Sandbanks. And then … I’ll receive my finisher’s medal in the post. I’ll then add it to my “Log of Achievement”! … a thick branch originating from the back garden, which I now lasso my medals on.

Are there any incentives?

  • For most an epic finishers t-shirt (instead I’ve donated some of my entry fee to https://treesnottees.com/)
  • The bespoke finishers medal mentioned above
  • Digital postcards along the route
  • A personalised digital certificate
  • Regular motivation from their team
  • Being part of an exclusive community on Strava as well as on their dedicated Facebook page
  • Being added into the finisher’s hall of fame … hopefully
  • Some opportunities to win some spot prizes from their sponsors along the way

So let’s see how we get on with my first ever virtual challenge!

This is just day 2 after all where enthusiasm is still high. Let’s see how long that lasts! 🙂

An additional inventive for me is that every run I do on Strava syncs with Charity Miles. This site automatically donates money to charity based on how far you run/walk/cycle (thanks to their own sponsors). My selected charity is Every Mother Counts for which I’m a UK running ambassador. So yet another good reason for getting off my lazy butt rather than binge watching another series on Netflix.

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