It takes a global pandemic to force the world of running into the virtual world. Every marathon organiser is forced to get creative to attract their hardcore fans to jump on board the virtual bandwagon with them.

The Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) has been the latest to join the virtual run bandwagon to give their die-hard running fans a treat in this 2020, ruined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race will be held from December 5-13th, and there will be something for every level of runner from beginners to hardcore marathoners in the different distances on offer – 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km.

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Despite offering a virtual run in place of the cancelled live event, participation in the KLSCM 2020 Virtual Run will still count in the runner’s history to keep their running streak alive.

The KL marathon organisers will be launching a new GPS-based smartphone application to track runners, and keep the competitive edge going with a leaderboard.

Bragging rights are up for grabs despite the lack of prizes, and fear not, cheaters will be filtered out. As the organisers are offering keeping the virtual run free, merchandise including finisher medals and t-shirts can be purchased separately.

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Touted as the second biggest marathon in Malaysia, the Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) will be holding their virtual run this weekend. Usually more than 30,000 runners would converge in Penang every November to run across the bridge connecting the island to the mainland. This year however, runners will be gathering only virtually due to social distancing efforts to combat the pandemic.

PBIM offers various distances for all levels of runners in the 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km categories.

Hosted on the Sports Heroes browser-based platform, runners are required to track their own run via GPS devices. Registration is still open until December 20th, and the organisers have extended the virtual race to span until 31st December. Runners are now able to participate in more than one category too.

Merchandise can be purchased separately as the registration for the race is complimentary.

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Augmented Reality (AR) will pave the way for the main Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) race traditionally held in the first week of December for Singapore-based runners. The SCSM grand finale race seems to be the first AR-based running race in the South East Asia region, although it will not be offering the marathon distance.

Participants will be running their 10km or 21km race on treadmills with required equipment to provide the AR effect and tracked via the Rouvy AR smartphone application.

Runners will have to book their slots at designated gyms throughout Singapore. Runners outside of Singapore will be able to participate in the virtual run in separate non-AR categories.

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Since its inception in August, the SCSM has launched a comprehensive virtual running club catering for runners of all levels, to lead up to the main race on the first weekend in December.

The browser-based club on the Sports Heroes platform has been offering weekday challenges which include fartlek and tempo runs among others plus weekend challenges throughout the 14-week period. Additionally, runners are entitled to a lucky draw consisting of merchandise with every challenge they sign up for.