The Marathon Project has announced the details for its Virtual Challenge, a 26-day event beginning on November 25 for runners and walkers of all ages and abilities across the globe. Participants will be able to compete in up to four races of their choosing—a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, and a marathon, as well as an overall Mileage Madness Challenge. Each entrant will receive an official Marathon Project Half-Zip, a finisher’s medal, and will be eligible for raffle prizes, social media shout-outs from the pros, and more.
The Virtual Challenge accompanies The Marathon Project, an in-person, professional-only marathon that will be held on December 20 in Chandler, Ariz. The race features 100 athletes from 13 different countries, all training in North America, including Canadian record holder Cam Levins and American Sara Hall who is coming off a second-place finish at the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Marathon Project co-organizer, Josh Cox, said one of the goals with the Virtual Challenge is to encourage interaction between the pros and the virtual participants.
“Virtual runners will be able to sign up to compete as a part of their favorite pro runner’s team,” Cox said. “We believe, through social media, that this will be a great way for the pros and amateurs to come together with the Marathon Project participants cheering on their virtual teammates in the weeks leading up to the race.”
The connection between the virtual participants and the professional athletes, and the sport as a whole, does not stop there. Five dollars from every virtual entry goes to the USATF Foundation. The Foundation supports the development of emerging elite athletes, while fostering integration within the broader track & field community. Its Run With US! program is a school and community center based program utilizing elite track and field athletes–Olympians and Olympic hopefuls teaching about track and field, running, exercise, nutrition, goal-setting, and self-esteem.
Ben Rosario, another one of The Marathon Project organizers, said the Virtual Challenge will be vital to the overall success of the event.
“Due to the Pandemic, it was not possible to have a mass participation in-person option for our race,” Rosario said. “But the positive thing is that the Virtual Challenge will give running fans from across the globe a chance to be a real part of The Marathon Project, and it is our mission to give them a great experience.”
In addition to the USATF Foundation, the other beneficiary will be the Marathon Project athletes themselves as all remaining funds created via Virtual Challenge entry fees will go to putting on a world-class event.
The Virtual Challenge begins November 25 and runs through Marathon Project race day on December 20. Virtual participants will be able to upload their data and photos to the Virtual Challenge website and follow along with leaderboards for each of the four races as well as the Mileage Madness competition. Registration is available now at www.themarathonproject.com/virtual-race/.
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