How are Organisers Adapting

Our Return To Racing Case Study

With different parts of the world in different stages of their countries lockdown, we're starting to see activity in the racing industry begin to emerge. As the months have ticked by, many runners have been wondering when athletes would be allowed to get back to in-person racing. Although we're not sure when this will happen in the UK, we can look at other parts of the world and see what the start of a journey back to normality will look like.

In this email we've put together a few case studies of race organisers who have welcomed their audience back for an in person event, or adapted to offer an interesting virtual race. We hope this will inspire race directors, event organisers and event staff to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

?30th annual Bone and Back relay - Idaho

After months of discussion, organizers behind the annual Bone and Back relay decided to move forward with the race this year. The 40-mile relay will begin Saturday, June 27 at Summitt Orthopedics in Idaho Falls. There will be varying start times, depending on how participants are competing. The solo race will begin at 5:30 a.m. Those participating as part of a 4-man or 8-man team will begin at 7:30 a.m. The decision to hold the race was made at a late point with only a few couple of weeks to go until race day, due to the touch and go scenario. But once all participants were alerted, it was all go from there to get the final planning wheels in motion. They even offered a $10 race entry discount to participants with the code 'COVID'.

In an effort to minimize the number of people gathering in one place, the organiser says they are planning to have staggered start times for each race. Aid stations will also be reduced to as few people as possible and there will not be an awards ceremony.

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the race was first held. They were hoping to celebrate that milestone in a big way, but those plans have changed because of the coronavirus outbreak. They're trying to support local businesses rather than ask for sponsorship, giving back to the community and to those businesses that have been suffering. It’s going to be a unique year for both runners and the race committee! 


?Run The Ranch- First Colorado Race In 11 Weeks

It had been 11 weeks since the last in-person race took place before state and local governments banned events throughout Colorado due to COVID-19 concerns. But Sweetheart City Racing bought runners back on the last weekend of May for a social- distance event.  

Taking place in a country Ranch, runners chose from a 5K or 10K trail race on Friday evening and a three hour or six hour trail race on Saturday morning. With over 3,200 acres of private property, the ranch was suited well to host the first distanced event in the area.

Starting near the Ranch office, runners headed out a dirt road, and then began to “climb” up the face of the mountain on technical single track trails with gorgeous views of the valley below. After one and a half miles, the trail leveled out and then began a wild descent. After 2.5 miles, 10K runners turned off and got the pleasure of running back up to the top and across a different mesa before returning to the finish line.

For the three hour and six hour, runners tried to finish as many laps of the challenging course as possible.

Overall, there were 130 registrants with an age range of finishers as young as 10 and as old as 85. Race organizers followed safety guidelines by offering a no contact packet pick-up process where everyone’s packet was placed in a bag and laid out on picnic tables for the runners to pick up. All staff members wore masks when dealing with runners and post-race food was prepared with gloved hands. Tent camping was available on Friday night, allowing some runners to participate in the runs both Friday night and on Saturday. Property cabins were also available for rent.

Race organizers followed safety guidelines by offering a no contact packet pick-up process where everyone’s packet was placed in a bag and laid out on picnic tables for the runners to pick up. All staff members wore masks when dealing with runners and post-race food was prepared with gloved hands.

The race utilized an open start line allowing runners to start the event at intervals which would accommodate current social distancing guidelines. Stakes were placed in the ground at six-foot intervals behind the start line to ensure runners did not get too close to each other before they began.

Sweetheart City Racing took on the challenge of hosting this first event back, proving that outdoor, open-air events can happen in a safe and thoughtful way, and showed that there are people that are ready for them to happen.

?Forty Yargo Ultra -Fort Yargo State Park in Georgia

On June 6th 2020, the Fort Yargo Ultra a 50K trail race with a 15.6-mile loop through one of Georgia's most beautiful State Parks took place. They had a staggered check-in and start to the race with 10 runners every 10 minutes, only allowing 50 runners per distance. Only bagged snacks at the (3) aid stations. 

In order to keep within regulations, the organiser added a Friday night check in to help with the rush on race day due to the difficulty of checking in racers fast with the 6ft rule. Staggering starts was more difficult than expected when maintaining timing standards, but the best way to keep the right distances in place. Here were a couple of other things the organiser put in place to manage the day successfully: 

-Airplane size (1oz) packaged snacks put out a few at a time for runners.

-Hand sanitizer everywhere and at each aid station.

-Staff and Volunteers have gloves and masks.

-Awards were mailed to participants to prevent crowds at the finish.

?The Big Gay 5K Goes Virtual 

With the cancellation of countless Gay Pride events, there’s never been a more needed time to sashay our way through life’s challenges and show everyone, most importantly ourselves, how proud we are to be who we are. The Big Gay 5K is an example of an event going virtual to try keep up the celebration of Pride Month Virtual Walk/Run Race Event. 

The organisers of this event have opted to give athletes a choice between three pre-chartered courses, sending participants exclusive pride face coverings, along with the pinkest glitteriest medal you can dream up. For the first time ever, anyone, anywhere can participate whether its at home on a treadmill or in their local park choosing their own 5k route. As part of this virtual effort organisers have promoted the requirement to post a selfie with a chosen PRIDE outfit, to celebrate the great work of the charity partners and be part of the community. 

Like with most causes, the LGBT community supported by this race has patrons who support it year round. Therefore this organiser has give the option of simply donating a chosen amount rather than opting to be officially part of the race receiving merechandise, whilst still able to run the 5K themselves. 

What can we learn from these events?

That short case study of events from across the pond shows us a few things... 

  • Races are coming back, with some extra precautions.
  • If the cause is important enough to you, virtual events can garner enough attention to replace the original thing and be worth your while.
  • Your audience is waiting patiently to be invited back, and will cooperate with good communication from the organisers.

Although we don't have full clarity about when racing will be able to return in the UK, you can still engage your audience with virtual events. Get in touch to use eventrac for your virtual races:

On Hand To Help

The team at Eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of Eventrac. We are here to help.

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