2020 Marathons Are Going Virtual—Here’s What to Know About This Trend, Including if You Should Run on a Treadmill

This article was originally published on Parade.com

Everything’s going virtual these days, including marathons. Because of the pandemic, most of the major marathons scrapped their live races in 2020, and although many races like the Boston Marathon have set dates for 2021, it’s too early to tell if they’ll take place live. Still, runners are a dedicated bunch, and when they need to pivot, they will, hence the rise of virtual marathons—including Disney’s Star Wars half-marathon, that will now be virtual.

Although virtual marathons aren’t new, they’ve never been more popular than now. Not sure what they are or how you should do one? Running experts offer their insight.

What is a virtual marathon?

Virtual marathons might sound odd at first. After all, if you’re used to virtual meetings, you might imagine little more than masses of people running on screen at the same time. You’re close. While you’re still running the event in name (which often means you’ll get a T-shirt and medal), “you’re usually running at a time and on a course you choose, inside or outside, hilly or flat, sometimes even over a number of days” says Gretchen Zelek, co-partner of Donuts and Pie Fitness in Dennis, Mass., and running expert who’s completed several virtual marathons. “You pick the start and finish line, be it on a treadmill, track, trail, or road.”


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Gretchen loves to write about fitness, running, and lifestyle over 50. Gretchen, 63, has been married for 35 years and is a mom to 4 grown children. She enjoys volunteering for charities in the Los Angeles area, loves running, and never misses her daily zoom corebarrefit class.

About Gretchen