Virtual races allowing recreational runners to compete on their own time

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBS) A growing trend is giving recreational runners the chance to participate in races at their convenience, from any location they choose.

It may not look like it, but Evy and David Jacob are competing in a 5K race with runners from around the world. They're going the distance after registering for a virtual race.

Athletes can set their own course and run from any place, any time, using an app to log their results.

Reporter Tom Hanson: How many races have you run so far?
Evy Jacob: This will be my third virtual race.
Reporter Tom Hanson: And your first one was a marathon?
Evy Jacob: My first one was a virtual marathon, yup. That was a big one.

From Nike to the "Map My Run" app by Under Armour, many companies are getting in on the growing trend.

"This is great, this is fun. You see how other runners do, you compare to them. It's fun," Jacob said.

New York Road Runners teamed up with the running app Strava over a year ago to offer virtual runs to its 60,000.

"And they continue to grow in popularity," said the NYRR CEO Michael Capiraso. He says participants still get a sense of community, even if they're running alone. "We thought if we can go ahead and give people the opportunity to run in virtual races... at any time, we thought what a great way to connect people around the world and have them engage in fitness through running."

Some races even allow runners to raise money for the charity of their choice.

"We did it... Now we're addicted," Jacobs said.

She says the opportunity to earn a little post-race bling doesn't hurt either.

While some virtual races are free, others have a fee. Capiraso says don't worry, traditional races won't become obsolete. In fact, he believes that virtual racing actually encourages more people to run.