Emergency Transition to a Virtual Race (Simple)

In the event of a severe weather event, a public health crisis, or other public safety concern, one option available to races is transitioning your event to a Virtual Race, either for all participants or as an option. There are many reasons to host an intentionally virtual race, but this blog addresses best practices for transitioning to a virtual option due to an emergency situation.

This blog represents the most straight-forward way to transition runners to a virtual option. For the advanced version, view this blog.

What is a virtual race?

Virtual races are event (runs/walks) that can be completed by participants anywhere over a range of time.

Why offer a virtual race?

  • Allow runners to participate in your race when they cannot physically run together
  • Offers a sense of accomplishment similar to the experience of participating in a real event
  • Makes treadmill participation an option
  • Limits waste of previously ordered medals, bibs and other swag

Allowing Runners to Opt for a Virtual Race Post-Registration

To easily enable a pop-up and email notification allowing participants to swap to a virtual race (along with other options), go to race >> cancel or postpone race.

You can see which participants have selected the virtual option via the reports on that page.

Results Posting

Determine if you will offer any results-posting. The common methods for collecting virtual results include:

  • Google Form: Create a Google Form that runners can use to submit results
  • Email Results: Participants email the results and the race director posts the results
  • Photo Proof: Participants send a picture of their Garmin/Strava/Fitbit/MapMyRun finishing time and the race director posts
  • No Results: No results posted.

Use Virtual Communities to enhance your virtual race

Use social media to replicate the social excitement of race day. A few ways to do that:

  • Create a Facebook Group and promote it amongst virtual participants as a place to share race completion selfies and encouragement
  • Use your existing Facebook Page as a hub to share completion selfies and encouragement
  • Create a hashtag to use on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media for the sharing of selfies and race stories. Share posts from your main accounts!

Swag Plan

Create (and communicate) a plan for any swag for the event. Options include:

  • Offer pickup at a later race
  • Offer a TBD pickup at a local running store or event. You may want to wait to determine the pickup point/time to prevent another postponement
  • Offer to ship swag. This is convenient for runners, but can be challenging and expensive for a race – since you did not collect shipping addresses at registration, you will have to verify correct addresses for each runner, and you will incur additional costs from shipping.
  • Do not offer swag – either it hasn’t been ordered yet, or you opt to donate it/use it for another event
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