Recap of the Cinco de Miler Virtual 5K Race Experience

Disclaimer:  I received an entry to the Cinco de Miler to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews.

What a difference a day (or in this case, two weeks) makes! I was so excited to have signed up to run the Cinco de Miler on Saturday, May 2nd. Chicago is my home town and as a Halloween baby I have a penchant for the macabre, so I was really looking forward to this Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) themed race! As a Chicago native, I have run a number of races hosted by RAM Racing and I can honestly say their races are top-notch. In fact, I enjoy their races so much, I am signed up for not one, not, two, but five of their races this year!

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But alas, the world had different plans. Just two weeks after registering for the race, I received an e-mail stating the race was being converted to a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that were set forth in Illinois and in many other states. So what’s a runner to do? As I always do, I made limonada out of limones. After all, there’s no crying in running!

Being one to look for the positives in any situation, this is my take on the race having gone virtual:

Even after the race went virtual, my son decided to sign up with me. Having someone to complete the virtual race with made it fun and more than just another solo training run.

Virtual race participants would still receive the long-sleeved black tech tee and awesome finisher’s medal that doubles as a bottle opener. I received my packet the morning of the virtual race, so I was able to use the medal to pop open my favorite cerveza later in the day. We received some yummy Mexican dulces in our swag bags, and the finisher’s shirt is oh-so-silky and comfortable!

The Cinco de Miler is part of RAM Racing’s 2020 Run This Town Challenge. Running the race virtually still counts toward the challenge.

The race was set to start at 8:00 a.m., which would have meant getting up at 5:30 a.m. and driving into the city and spending money on gas and parking. With the race having gone virtual, I chose to sleep in and was able to relax and enjoy the morning before heading out for our run.

I have a favorite running route that is exactly five miles, starting and ending right outside my doorstep. The route is never crowded and we saw just a handful of people along the way, which made it easy to socially-distance.

Participants could enter their time on the race website and download a fun-themed ‘official’ finisher’s certificate.

With the switch to a virtual race, RAM Racing added a charity partner and made the commitment to donate $5.00 from each registration to help the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund , which helps get resources into the hands of the organizations on the front line of this pandemic. For me personally, this was the biggest benefit of the race having gone virtual.

And as an added bonus, though completely unplanned, the ribbon on the finisher’s medal was a perfect match to the SPIBelt I chose to wear that day!

While it wasn’t what I planned, running a virtual race was a fun way to spend my Saturday morning with my son. The temperature was a bit warm, but we had a nice breeze that kept us cool and we took our time and enjoyed the experience. Hats off to RAM Racing and to all of the other races, big and small, that are doing the best they can to keep us healthy and safe during this pandemic. These are difficult times for so many. Let’s all do our part to stay positive and support our friends in the running community.

Have you ever run a virtual race? Which was your favorite? What races do you have planned for the upcoming year?

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On (or off) my 2020 Race Calendar:

January 9 – 12, 2020:  Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, Orlando, FL

March 1, 2020:  Tokyo Marathon DEFERRED to 2021

March 15, 2020:  Amita Health St. Paddy’s Day Half Marathon, Bolingbrook, IL POSTPONED until September

May 2, 2020:  Cinco de Miler, Chicago, IL Gone VIRTUAL

May 23, 2020:  Soldier Field 10 Miler, Chicago, IL Gone VIRTUAL

June 21, 2020:  Wonder Woman 10K, Chicago, IL Gone VIRTUAL

July 12, 2020:  Across the Bay 12K, San Francisco, CA Gone VIRTUAL

September 12, 2020:  Run Mag Mile, Chicago, IL CANCELLED

October 4, 2020:  Bucktown 5K, Chicago, IL CANCELLED

October 11, 2020:  Chicago Marathon CANCELLED


  1. I’m not a virtual racer at all but I’d have done that one just for the tee shirt!!!

    1. Author

      The shirt is really cool and it really does feel like silk! You know sizes are such a crap shoot between races, so I actually ordered a small with my registration and a medium with my son’s (since he didn’t think he’d wear it), so now I have two!

  2. I love that you took part in the virtual race and all of that swag is awesome!

  3. How fun!! Way to go!! I’m sure we’re all going to have to get used to more virtual races happening for the next little while. Love that shirt too!!

    1. Author

      I’m hopeful that some of my smaller fall races will still go on, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m glad to at least have a virtual option. I know many races were flat-out cancelled.

  4. Super cute swag! I haven’t done a real virtual race this particular season, just because I’m still coming back, but I hope to get there soon!

    1. Author

      I think virtual will be pretty much our only options this year, unless maybe some smaller races later in the year.

      The nice thing about starting back with a virtual would be that there would be no pressure to push hard and re-injure yourself!

  5. Wonderful alternative planning to continue on with keeping in the spirit of the race! Love the long sleeved tech tee and medal too! Not to quote Mr. Rogers “always look for the helpers….” but I love how in the pandemic people are bonding and finding creative ways to continue on still forging ahead while doing good and helping others along the way!

    1. Author

      I love the ‘look for the helpers’ quote. Did you see the movie with Tom Hanks? It was an interesting look into the life of Fred Rogers outside of his TV show.

  6. My race calendar looks even worse than yours.

    I have done 2 virtual half marathons. I say DO because I do not race the virtual ones.

    I have a few more planned as well as a virtual 5k or two.

    1. Author

      I agree on the racing part. It’s tough when you’re the only one out there. Even though it was ‘only’ five miles, I was glad to have my son with me.

  7. I love how quickly most races converted to virtual rather than canceling and I’ve loved seeing the variety of races my blogging friends have been doing. Most definitely making limonada out of limones!

    1. Author

      The virtual races are a nice option. It would be impossible for the races to just refund the money since much of it is spent in advance on things like permits, advertising, pre-ordering race shirts, medals, and bibs, etc. I just hope things will turn around for everyone.

  8. Sounds like a good morning! Can’t wait to see the medal. I hope I get my swag before I run mine this coming weekend. I opted to push it out a week since I also had Hot Chocolate on my virtual racing schedule.

  9. That medal!!!! Well, the shirt looks sweet, too…but that medal 😉 What a nice way to spend some time (fitness) time with your son. My youngest daughter registered for the Fight for Air Climb, and surpassed the fundraising goal…but getting her to come to town and climb some stairs with her dear old mom is a hard sell. Maybe for Mother’s Day, I can guilt her into doing it?

  10. You had perfect weather for your race! Love all that swag, but RAM puts on some nice races. I hope things stop being canceled!

    1. Author

      The weather was awesome. We had a nice breeze which made it feel great. I love RAM Racing races. I do hope their fall races will be a go!

  11. That shirt is so cool! Running the virtual race with your son is definitely a bonus. I must have run some RAM races in the past (I think I have only done 2 races in Chicago – the marathon and a RnR half) because I still get emails from them.

    1. Author

      RAM Racing hosts tons of races, so there’s a good chance that was the case. They also have challenges where if you run X amount of races in a year you get a special series medal. This year’s is really cool, and given the circumstances, the virtual races will count toward the challenge, which is really nice.

  12. Very cool. Love the skull medal you used on your cerveza post-race!

  13. It sounds like everything worked out well! The nice thing about virtual races is being able to do them when it is convenient, and not have to deal with parking, traffic, etc. Great job!

    1. Author

      It is nice to get that reward, though I would completely understand if they couldn’t be sent just due to the cost of postage for an industry that is already hurting.

  14. Wait, a finisher’s medal that doubles as a bottle opener? I totally want that!
    Sounds like you had a great Saturday morning – nice that your son could join you!

  15. I haven’t done a virtual race . . . yet. They really don’t call to me. But I am signed up for one, mainly because it’s a great women’s race here & I wanted to support them.

    Alas, I’ll be running it on my own. I’m thinking I’ll run downhill (although it’s definitely not a downhill course!).

    1. Author

      I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it but honestly, given the current circumstances, it’s better than no racing at all! Since I don’t care too much about my finish times, signing up for virtual races is a nice way to stay motivated to just keep moving.

  16. Awesome swag! Glad you could enter a virtual race and having fun. The route looks very beautiful.
    This morning I have run the first virtual race of my life.

      1. I like to run virtual races because in this period, in Italy, all the running events are cancelled.

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