2021 goals: Virtually racing to Neptune

I’ve been participating in the annual Moon Joggers year-long challenge since 2017, and thought I’d share a little bit about my journey with this virtual racing group – and my goals for 2021 – as 2020 winds down.

(Please note that most of the links in this post are affiliate links; if you join MoonJoggers through one of them I will receive a small portion of the sign-up fee in the form of a discount on my own membership. You can choose to become an affiliate when signing up for these challenges, as well, and everyone who signs up automatically receives a 40% discount on their future race purchases as well.)

The Moon Joggers group attempts to virtually “journey” to a different planet every year. In 2017 we chased the Sun, in 2018 we journeyed to Jupiter, in 2019 we raced rings around Saturn, in 2020 we explored Uranus (cue naughty jokes), and in 2021 the group is aiming to weather the storm with Neptune.

The eighth planet in our solar system, Neptune has an average temperature of -353 Fahrenheit and frequently experiences storms with extremely high winds – hence the concept of “weathering the storm” for next year’s virtual journey. It’s also 2.75 billion miles from Earth, so even if there were millions of people participating in the collective goal, we’d never hit the required mileage. Of course, that’s not really the point; it’s about journey, more than the destination. It’s always fun to think about the planet that’s been chosen for the year, about how life on Neptune might compare with life here on Earth, and to dream big with your annual walking or running goals.

Over at MoonJoggers.com, you can set your own yearly goals (100, 500, 750; 1,000; 1,500; or 2,021 miles!) and track your mileage on their website or app – both of which are free. I find it encouraging to watch my mileage stack up each day, so whether you choose to go the free route (simply logging your miles) or purchase the full package (which includes a group t-shirt, bib and participation medal), it’s a good way to stay motivated to keep on moving every day.

Fun fact: With all of my mileage combined across the years, I’ve risen to the rank of Admiral (5,000 miles)! In 2021, I’m aiming for the rank of Executive (7,000 miles).

In addition to being a fun way to keep active during a pandemic, all of the group’s races also donate a portion to different charities, and the Neptune event is raising money for Feeding America – a particularly necessary nonprofit helping families put food on the table during these financially unstable times.

If you’re looking for a low-pressure, fun way to keep track of your own fitness journey and help others in 2021, I highly recommend virtual racing! Personally, I don’t run and don’t ever intend to, so all of the races I’ve done with the group have either been indoor cardio (back when I could still go to the gym, I would time myself on the elliptical machine) or outdoor walks. I don’t pressure myself to hit specific times, but simply log my mileage each day based on the data from my Apple Watch (or, previously, my Fitbit), and I find it fascinating to see my ups and downs and patterns emerging through the months and years.

In 2021, I’m going to participate in the group’s new Race Through America series, virtually completing 5Ks for California (January) and New York (February). I haven’t yet decided whether I will participate in all of the races (there’s a different state medal available for each month, and the challenge will go on across several years), but I think it’d be fun to try to complete races for all 50 states, even if I don’t necessarily want to collect all of the medals.

If you’d like to check out the main event, or join me on my virtual journey to Neptune, here’s a link to sign up for the year-long Neptune: Weathering the Storm challenge. Happy racing!