I signed up for the Zombies, Run! Spring 2016 Virtual Race. I had never participated in a virtual race before. I didn’t know the benefits of virtual racing, but this race taught me. And it’s good things.

In a virtual race, you sign up online for a specific distance and then run anywhere. Completions are typically based on the honor system, but since Zombies, Run! is a fitness tracker, the app tracked my progress and result. I can definitely see virtual race coordinators partnering with fitness tracking companies in the future.

Read my Zombies, Run app review here. 

Benefits of virtual racing packet

Race packet

Benefits of Virtual Racing

  1. You often pick the day. This race had a 13 day window (that extended to 19 days). You can choose what best fits your schedule and training plan.
  2. You pick the time. You don’t have to rush out the door at 6:00AM.
  3. You pick the place. You can run in your neighborhood or your favorite park, no need to deal with traffic and parking nightmares.
  4. No lengthy port-a-potty lines.
  5. You learn to push yourself when you are by yourself.
  6. For charity races, more money may go to charity due to lower event costs.

Zombies, Run! Virtual Race

The events in this race occurred before the first season of Zombies, Run! so it could be done by anyone without spoilers. It came with a load of goodies and 2 training missions.

The first training mission had me exploding the side of a building to rescue the 15th military regiment. What did we find there? Something scary and unexpected…

I ran the second training mission after dusk in a relatively empty park. When the inevitable growl of a zombie encompassed my right ear, I jumped 2 feet in the air mid-run. Then laughed nervously and continued to run into the darkness.

Then it was time for the race. I promised myself on Saturday I would finish up the 6 scenes left in my novel. I also promised myself that halfway through I would race a 5K.

Benefits of virtual racing download screen

Mission screen (listening to my 10K playlist)

I’m not one to wear the race shirt to the race, but this time it felt different.

I donned my Runner 5 t-shirt.

Benefits of virtual racing shirt

I walked a quarter-mile, then ran a quarter-mile to warm up. In retrospect, I should have practiced my 5K warm up (I feel really dumb when I write these things post-race, guys) which is 15 minutes of jogging and some strides.Then, I started up the audio mission.

Benefits of virtual racing spoilers


Zombies, Run! Virtual Race Recap

We were running to a town where General Kazimov had taken the 15th regiment and a nuclear warhead to “head off” the mysterious plague.

The general had blocked all entries into the city and his guards shot one of my teammates.

Every half kilometer, I received radio transmissions on my progress through the city.

Our sensors told us the nuclear weapon was in a truck, which we disabled.

We were wrong.

The wind I was facing was rough. I started to feel that temptation.

That temptation to just stop running.

It’s not a real race, but that dang general. He was going to set off that nuke.

I kept running.

The general was ranting about a zombie apocalypse if we did not try to bomb the origin city and I wrestled the detonator from him. Since this story is pre-Zombies, Run!, he may have been right.

But, I saved the city.


I ran a 26:14 (4 seconds away from my baseline 5K). My mile splits were 8:32, 8:27, and 8:18.

Currently I am placed 303 of 2876, but the race window is open until April 18th.

Benefits of virtual racing completion goodies

Medal, pin, and certificate

Compared to my baseline 5K, I started with a quicker pace, maybe a little too fast in the first quarter-mile. I focused on my breathing and leg turnover until I felt settled. I felt more solid this run, focusing on my form and stride. Unlike my baseline 5K, I kept more even negative splits (faster each mile, but not as dramatic).

I enjoyed pushing myself solo in the park. It would be hard to run that fast without the story of saving a town from a nuclear weapon and the backing of virtual runners all over the world.

Benefits of virtual racing medal

My medal and me

Do you have any tips to share on how to push hard and fast when you are by yourself?

Have you ever considered a virtual race?