Though mass road races have vanished from sight due to the coronavirus pandemic, virtual races have become a global trend as people look to exercise and rekindle the spirit of competition. One of the more notable races on the Coastside, the annual Devil’s Slide Run, was slated for May 30 but was scrapped and is now rescheduled for May 22, 2021.

In the meantime, race organizer, the Partners and Advocates for Remarkable Children and Adults, a Bay Area nonprofit that helps special needs children and adults, has opted to participate in a growing trend of virtual races. Last month the nonprofit launched the PARCA Remarkable Challenges, in which racers can challenge themselves by

swimming, biking or running anywhere in the world. The goal is to raise $30,000 from registration proceeds to support low-income and special needs families and individuals impacted by COVID-19 with regard to employment, child care and other limited resources.

For $45, participants can set their own run, ride or workout, or choose from a list of preset courses. All workouts or distances must be completed in the allotted timeframe, which began on Aug. 28 and ends Dec. 31. Some of the preset courses are no joke. PARCA’s website lists formidable undertakings such as completing the Iditarod Trail in Alaska, swimming from Cuba to Florida, swimming the English Channel and biking across the United States. Participants can track their ride through whichever GPS system they choose, or upload manually to the site.

PARCA also had to reschedule its Merciless Metric Century bike ride, which runs south on Highway 1 from Pacifica through Pescadero. PARCA averages about 600 participants between its events on the Coastside, according to PARCA CEO Diana Conti. She explained that the essence of the events is meant to be fun and challenging while being inclusive.

“This brings in people who support PARCA, but are not necessarily endurance athletes,” said Conti. “Now, we’re getting great participation from our clients as well.”

Conti said one of their participating office teams has calculated the necessary daily mileage to reach the equivalent of walking from San Carlos to Disneyland. Awards for each challenge include the top three finishers, most elevation gained in biking and running, and the most hours spent exercising. To sign up, visit runsignup.com and search “Remarkable Challenge.”

Another virtual race Coastsiders can enjoy is the 42nd annual Pumpkin Run, organized by Senior Coastsiders. Although the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival is canceled this year, participants can still choose their own 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer or half-marathon race. All distances can be run or walked during the event period, which runs Oct. 12 through Oct. 25. Because of the nature of the event, prizes won’t be awarded. Runners can compare themselves on the leaderboard with the Asics Runkeeper app or using any other run tracker app. To learn more or register, visit seniorcoastsiders.org.

This new format brings different price incentives for completing multiple runs. If one race isn’t enough, try completing the Pumpkin Run Trifecta and finish all distances in the 14-day period. If the half-marathon isn’t in your wheelhouse, the Pumpkin Run Double Trouble, both the 5K and 10K, is also an option. Senior Coastsiders is partnering with Empowered Fitness, to provide training plans to discounted virtual classes.

Though virtual races mean the elimination of live competition, the trade-off is the ability for a competitor to perform wherever and whenever they choose.

“It accommodates reality at this time, as you can’t go anywhere you want anytime you want for a whole variety of

reasons,” Conti said. “It enables people to do it at their convenience, work around their own schedules, and stay safe.”

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