We wanted to take a minute to check back in with the endurance community to see what industry leaders are seeing and doing in their areas to keep running forward.
A Virtual Running Store, A Virtual Community
Like many running stores, Philadelphia Runner does more than sell shoes – they run multiple group runs each week, offer a training team, partner on the Philly 10K race each summer, and generally provide support and community. When restrictions started to roll in, they jumped into action with the hashtag #KeepPhillyRunnning and a plan to do just that.
Their new Facebook Group, PR Solo encourages the community keep running (and keep engaging) from a distance with a two-pronged approach:
- Encourage local runners to regularly share their (safe and solo) run photos, routes, and questions for encouragement and connection.
- Offer a weekly challenge that runners can try to complete, with a few (optional) courses marked in chalk and complete flexibility to do the challenge anywhere and at anytime (yes, a treadmill counts). The first two weeks have seen runners trying for their fastest mile and fastest 5K – but the winners aren’t the speediest, they’re drawn randomly from the runners who share photos on social media.
In just less than two weeks, the Facebook Group they created has nearly 1000 runners and dozens of posts each day. And when the stores reopen (or when runners need new shoes from their online store), runners will remember that the store and all its employees were with them throughout the worst of it – a part of their community, not just a vendor to it.
A Different Kind of Virtual Run
Fusion Race Timing is turning the Virtual Race model on its head and using social media to promote a hyper-interactive challenge for runners to participate in throughout a ~6 week period. To make the program more interactive, there are several steps:
- Runners register for the Hoppy Runner Virtual Challenge
- Runners opt to either complete 50 miles by the end of the challenge, or 100 miles. 50 mile finishers will get a medal and 100 mile finishers will get both a medal and a shirt (shipped to them)
- Runners join a private Facebook Group created for the challenge
- Each day, Fusion adds a post for anyone to report their miles for the day, which runners report with an image of their tracking device
- Fusion Racing updates each runners daily and total mileage on a Google Doc that all runners can access to verify accuracy
The Challenge is a good example of creating a true experience through a virtual event. Like setting up a fun finish line, it’s not about the easiest way to do a virtual race, it’s about finding things that are fun, (virtually) social, and come with a physical reward (like a medal!). So far, more than 500 participants have signed on to join the Challenge, and one of them was so excited about it that they shared it with Runners World!
Leftover Race Supplies to the Rescue!
Fleet Feet Rochester and YellowJacket Racing were able to donate leftover cotton shirts to a NY home-sewing effort for extra masks. Need and fabric requirements may vary by state, but check with your County Executive, County Medical Director, local Hospital donation department, etc., to see if your leftovers can help.
Over in the UK, Rat Race Adventure Sports donated food items and toilet paper they had already purchased for a subsequently cancelled event to a local food bank. If you have a stash, see if your local foodbank can use it (regulations may vary by location – make sure they can safely accept donations before dropping them off).
Tracking Trends in Endurance Events Cancelled / Postponed Due to Coronavirus
There are a few aggregators of cancellation data out there, but the one put together by Josh Reed of On Path Events is an interesting dashboard that lets you see cancellations (including postponements) in a map view and a spreadsheet view. This tracks *mostly* larger events, but is useful for getting a snapshot of how races around the country are responding. You can track that map and data here.
If you’re doing something creative and cool with your community of runners, let us know about it. We want to help the industry find unique and interesting ways to keep the country running until we can actually all get out and run together, again!