“Why would I enter that? I could just do it myself and save the money!”

True. You could. But there are lots of benefits to entering a virtual challenge and the increase in virtual races in recent years means that many people are realising this too.

Virtual events are not new but they have seen a rise in popularity in the wake of Covid19 – with many ‘real life’ events converting to a virtual event for one year only. However, many people enter virtual events as their first choice, not just a replacement for a ‘real’ event.

So why enter a virtual challenge? We look at the reasons here:

  • Skin in the game

When you have paid for a challenge – it is an act of commitment and you are more likely to see it through. Ever been given a freebie that somehow we never get round to using/doing. We are not invested financially and therefore we are not invested emotionally to complete it. Having some skin in the game makes us more likely to complete it.

  • Motivation and focus

There are lots of habits we want to make. We plan to eat better, exercise more, drink less etc and some people find that easy to do fuelled by their own will power. All of the things we want to achieve we could do, if we put our minds to it. But let’s face it – often we don’t. Who has cancelled a gym membership or fitness subscription thinking ‘I don’t need to spend money on this – I can just do it myself’ only to find two months later they haven’t. For some people, their will power isn’t as ambitious as their dreams! Entering a challenge is a way to motivate yourself to actually start something or to help you persevere with something. It’s like when you have a race to train for – training is easy. Once the race has gone – it can be more of a struggle. Entering a virtual challenge makes you more likely to actually do the thing.

  • Social support and accountability

The online community around virtual challenges can really help keep you motivated. You join a group or follow the page for the challenge and seeing a stream of photos of people doing their session, or post-workout with that sweaty glow, gives you the push to join them. It’s also nice to get a well done for your efforts from other people and maybe even get the chance to offer some tips and advice. Entering a challenge with a group of friends and sharing your progress towards a shared goal adds a sense of accountability and belonging that can help you stick at it. It’s nice to support and be supported, it’s nice to be acknowledged and let’s face it – we can’t do much of that in real life in a pandemic!

  • Reward

For some people, the medal, badge or challenge coin award is their motivation. It means a lot to them to work for something tangible. Seeing the physical evidence of their efforts makes them feel good and helps keep them motivated for the future. It’s a lasting reminder of an achievement and gives a sense of pride and satisfaction for a job well done. Collecting a series of awards or completing a set can also be a great motivator. And having evidence of what you have previously achieved can help you maintain your efforts going forward. Bling is king!

  • Competition

Humans by nature are competitive – some of us more than others. For some, the element of competition with a virtual challenge can be the boost they need to push themselves further or simply to do the activity. Virtual challenges can be run as your own race and you may have no interest to look at the results table to see how you did compared to others (and that’s fine) – but if you want to – you can keep an eye on the competition, follow their progress and see how you compare. You might be aiming for top spot, top 10, top 100, or to just not be last – these kind of goals can make all the difference. Seeing your name in black and white on a results table can give you a great sense of achievement.


If you speak to people who love virtual challenges you will find many more reasons. For some they want to ‘race’ but are put off by the ‘race day’ experience – the crowds, the pressure, other competitors, the travel, and their ability (or lack of) on public view for all to see in person! Virtual challenges allow them to ‘race’ in their own way with many of the same benefits.

It’s setting an example to their children, supporting a friend, using it to fundraise, or because they are a born collector and like to collect shiny things! For others it’s the excitement of opening a parcel with something lovely inside that you have earnt and you are proud of.  For almost all, a big reason is that it gives them a focus and purpose to try something new or stick with something they want to do.

So if you’ve been skeptical – why not give it a try and see if you find any of these benefits too?

Most challenges are inexpensive and easy to enter online and there’s great variety out there – so there’s very little to lose and potentially a huge amount to gain.


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