Fitness firm Asics has announced a new virtual relay marathon event that will allow teams of up to six to complete the distance from anywhere in the world.
The Asics World Ekiden 2020 is based on traditional long-distance Japanese relay races, but will use technology to link runners together in order to take part.
Asics said the concept for the event came in response to research by the fitness firm, which it said showed 42% of those who regularly exercise were currently finding it difficult to stay motivated because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and social distancing restrictions limiting their ability to race.
The new virtual race will use the Race Roster online platform and the Asics Runkeeper app to allow runners to track team progress in real-time on their mobile device, as well as on wearables including the Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit devices.
Live online leaderboards will show rankings and an in-race audio experience will also be available, Asics said, as part of efforts to make the team competition feel real no matter where various members are.
Yasuhito Hirota, president and chief operating officer of Asics, said: ‘It may be inspired by one of Japan’s most famous race formats, but the Asics World Ekiden 2020 really is an event like no other.
‘We know people are missing the motivation and connecting they get from team sport, so we are really excited to bring people together from all over the world to train and compete together in pursuit of a shared goal.
‘In the true spirit of the Ekiden, anybody can take part and nobody will be running alone.’
The World Ekiden is split into six legs, including three legs of 5km, two legs of 10km and one of 7.2km for teams of up to six people to complete.
Those who sign up for free on the Asics website or the Runkeeper app must complete their relay race between November 11 and 22.