Like many events, the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon converted its race to a virtual event in response to Covid 19 and the need for social distancing. Finishers still get a medal and t-shirt and are able to complete the official course routes. What is different? Participants complete their chosen course within a span of a week as a solo participant. By expanding the race dates to a full week, organizers are able to offer a social distancing supported experience and greater flexibility for participants. The Race Director, Eva Solomon, decided to offer RaceJoy to give participants a more authentic race experience with live phone tracking and the ability for spectators to engage with participants remotely.
The unexpected benefit of RaceJoy is that it supports social distancing while creating live social connections. RaceJoy’s phone tracking enables participants’ to have their remote friends and family track their live location on the course map. Friends and family can also engage real-time with runners/walkers by sending fun audio cheers. Plus, the app issues progress updates at every mile to the participant and those tracking them without the need for timing equipment.
Keeping On Course
Ann Arbor Marathon added course markings along the course to help guide people, but cautioned people that they needed to be familiar with the route. The good news is RaceJoy automatically issues off-course alerts to participants when they get off course. Plus, organizers can schedule audio directional cues to automatically play at points along the course to guide participants. RaceJoy also gives participants an interactive course map that they are able to access and see their current position. Below shows a street view version.
Ann Arbor Marathon race organizers are using the RaceJoy’s Monitoring Dashboard to track the position of those using RaceJoy and send communications as needed. The dashboard is a convenient way for organizers and timers to get an at-a-glance view of people on the course, and monitor the progress board and any off course alerts that are being issued.
Race organizers took advantage of RaceJoy’s real-time Audio Communications using text-to-speech technology. The personal message from Eva with a support phone number was a nice touch and was sent to all marathon runners on the course.
“Hello, Ann Arbor Marathon Runners! You’re all looking good out there. If anybody needs assistance, call 734-678-xxxx. Go, go, go!, A message from Eva Solomon, Race Director”
They then engaged with individual runners by sending personal messages like the one below.
“Nice job, Caroline! In the home stretch!, A message from Ann Arbor Marathon-VIRTUAL”
Special shout out to Eva Solomon and all of you who are taking steps to provide a positive experience for our communities. Many people don’t have gyms or exercise equipment. Giving people a way to safely engage with one another while completing a personal achievement during this challenging time is much appreciated.
Want to Offer RaceJoy for Virtual Event?
RaceJoy is available through RaceJoy Certified timers. Check with your timer to see if they are certified or search here to see their certification status. RunSignup is offering free RaceJoy Certification training on March 31 to support timers during this challenging time. Timers not already certified can register here.
Note: We require the following for Virtual Events to offer RaceJoy:
- Set course paths (not run anywhere)
- Set dates that span one day to multiple weeks
To encourage the safety of your participants, we suggest you span out the timeframe depending on the number of expected participants and to provide multiple course options. There are no limits to the number of courses you can include in RaceJoy.
Some events, like Ann Arbor Marathon, are offering both on-site course paths within a defined timeframe and the option to complete the distance at any location. If offering both, just make sure to communicate RaceJoy is only for the on-site option and runners/walkers should use their training apps for the at-any-location option.