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.
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!
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