Knowledge Base » Virtual Events

Virtual Event or Virtual Challenge?

Now that you have decided to put on a virtual event, which type makes the most sense to you? Below, we will discuss the differences between virtual events and virtual challenges. 

Broadly defined, a virtual event is a live event that allows participants to take part in an event and interact with other participants using a virtual location, or online platform, in place of an in-person experience at a single physical location. 


What is a virtual event? 

When looking specifically at athletic events, a virtual event is one where participants sign up to take part in an activity on their own, with the virtual support from the event. 

If the in-person event is cancelled and a virtual event is put on in its place, participants are generally asked to do an activity that somewhat resembles what they might have experienced during the now cancelled, in-person event. These activities are generally unstructured, but can range from running a 5k on your local roads to riding a set distance at your own pace, or completing a specific course at your own time. 


What is a virtual challenge?

Virtual Challenges, referred to as “challenges” going forward, are a more structured type of virtual event. Challenges take place over a specific period of time, have a distance, time, or vertical based goal, and require participants to upload or input activity data that can be compared to other participants on a leaderboard. 

Challenges can take place over a single day, a week, a month, or longer. For challenges longer than a week, the interval at which participants enter their activity data can be set to daily or weekly. For example, a longer challenge taking place over several months, (Summer Challenge, Fall Challenge, etc.) would make sense to choose the weekly data interval. 

With our Strava integration, our tools will automatically pull data from that weekly range during the sync process, saving athletes time and hassle, and ensuring accurate totals. To learn how we process and calculate totals from that data, learn more here.

Challenges can also have a primary goal or goals, and measure in time, distance, or vertical. As an example, a bike tour that tackles 400 miles over the length of the tour could set their primary goal as 400 miles. Or, if a trail run is known for its climbing, they could set the primary goal as the amount of vertical the runners would normally take on. 

Achievements, or secondary goals, can add to the engagement and marketability of the challenge. As an example, an event with a primary goal of 100 miles, could have 10, 25, 50, and 100 mile achievements. In addition, the achievement badge that a participant earns can be customized beyond the stock badges available. Tying these goals into specific metrics, landmarks, sponsors, or concepts that relate to the event keep things interesting for participants and results in greater participation and engagement.

There are several differences between virtual events and virtual challenges. Virtual events are based on an open format while virtual challenges have goals and targets for participants to go for. In the end, both can be engaging for participants. It is entirely up to the event director to determine what they are trying to achieve and what their target market wants.