Athletics has gone virtual

Friday May 29 2020

The Covid-19 lockdown has brought out several challenges for the country’s sportsmen and women, with many events being cancelled or postponed across the world.

For instance, the Boston Marathon, initially rescheduled to September 14 from April, has been cancelled altogether for the first time in the event’s 124-year history because of infection fears, and whether the Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour – which have also been pushed to August this year – will take place is not clear yet.

This has now forced organisers of different disciplines to innovate so as to keep the athletes busy, hence the advent of virtual running or races.

Celebrated golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson faced off in a virtual charity contest on May 24, raising Sh1 billion to aid the fight against Covid-19.

Closer home, World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor will compete in the virtual Lewa Safari Marathon on June 27 after the cancellation of the annual meet.



World 1,500 metres champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Commonwealth gold medallist Elijah Manang’oi will lead a Kenyan “Team Cheruiyot” charge against Norway’s “Team Ingebrigtsen”, featuring brothers Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, in a virtual run on June 11.

New York Marathon have put together a virtual mile between May 29 and June 7, while Netherlands’ NN Running Team have also planned a virtual race next weekend where Kipchoge and Kamworor will feature. 

These virtual races are the way to go and athletes should embrace them as they wait for the resumption of normal activities later in the year.