If you’re anything like me, you’re a) frustrated by the coronavirus wiping out the events you trained for all off-season, and b) your social feeds are filled with virtual races that just don’t meet your idea of a true, competitive challenge.
But, recently, a new virtual race called Battle Miles interrupted my Facebook feed, and it looked a little different. I decided to give it a shot, and see if it lived up to its claim of being “the world’s toughest online race.”
Like any virtual race, Battle Miles gives you the opportunity to run a specified distance at a time and place of your choosing, track your time using any fitness tracker, and then upload the results to the web. Pretty standard. But that’s where the comparison with other races end.
Battle Miles aren’t just about running a 5K and getting a t-shirt and a medal. Battle Miles is a true competition both against yourself and the field. Each month, the top finisher at each distance receives an additional gold medal for coming in first. That’s right, a virtual race where you can claim a podium!
But it’s not just about being fast, because Battle Miles requires a little something extra. The 2-mile, 5-mile, and 10-mile versions require participants to perform10 burpees after the completion of each mile, meaning that your 5-mile race also includes 50 burpees.
But the challenges don’t stop there. There are 5k versions to be completed with different weight vests, and the Battle Miles X-Miler that rewards the top finisher as the person who completed the most miles + burpees combo in a single session. (The current leader in the X-Miler completed 32 battle miles in a little under 14 hours).
And for those who truly crave punishment, there is a “Death Race” option, where the challenge is not revealed until a Battle Miles packet arrives at your home detailing exactly what the race entails. The results page shows that most participants are taking between 6-8 hours to complete the Death Race making it very intriguing.
Battle Miles races are for individuals, but there is also a monthly team challenge, and new races are frequently appearing. A new pro-series is in development for the super competitive out there. And with race fees between $10 and $25, it’s extremely affordable to participate.
Once I discovered the Battle Miles concept, I had to get more information to understand what inspired the owners to put this fun and interesting spin on virtual races.
“It all began with a foot chase,” said Battle Mile creator Josh Hamilton. “The first time I had to chase down and tackle a suspect, and then engage in the real life-and-death struggle of getting him in handcuffs, I knew there was more to it than running.”
Hamilton, who is an avid OCR racer and ultra-marathoner, is also a member of an elite response team in law enforcement in North Carolina.
“We wanted to create a virtual race that broke up the rhythm of running in a way that is similar to the strain of obstacles,” Hamilton said. “I had also been doing Murphys, and loved the feeling of complete exhaustion at the end, and feeling like you earned your finish. Battle Miles combines physical challenges with that satisfying competitive element. It’s been a great way to train for ultras and my career in law enforcement.”
I decided to jump into Battle Miles with the 5-Miler to see if it could offer a real challenge and if the completion part was really true. I mean, how competitive could it be to do it virtually?
The simple answer is plenty.
From a challenge standpoint, doing 10 burpees at the end of every mile for a 5-mile trip doesn’t sound difficult, until you have the clock running. Once you begin the race, you are constantly aware of your pace and how that is altered by stopping to do burpees. The challenge becomes, “how fast can I do 10 burpees? ” The next challenge is once you have completed the burpees, how quickly can you a) control your heart rate, and b) get back up to peak running pace before having to break down and do it again?
Again, it’s not easy. It’s especially hard if you are a competitive person like me, and you know that someone out there is going to see your time before they begin, and actively try to beat you. It’s a real motivation to go fast and put down a low time.
The fun thing is that with new races coming out each month, there is always a new – and crazier – challenge waiting to test your fitness and competitive spirit. And because it’s virtual, if you’re not happy with your time, you can repeat the challenge before you post your time online.
Plus, with just over 500 competitors in the short history of the race, there is a chance to get in early on the Battle Miles concept and win one of those first-place medals before your friends do.
So if you are looking for a fun, inexpensive way to test your fitness and keep the competitive fire burning, visit battlemiles.com to enter, and hopefully, we will see each other on the leaderboard.