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We know, no one wants to think about "what ifs" anymore. But here's the good news: you're prepared for anything now! Your plan allows you to proceed with confidence, knowing that you have back-up plans for your back-up plan.
You have tools that didn’t exist in 2020, science that has evolved since 2020, and backup options you had never considered in 2020.
Science is on your side.
While we encourage everyone to keep the safety of employees, volunteers, and participants front of mind, the best news for endurance events is that as more was learned about COVID-19, the most consistent recommendation for safety (aside from vaccines) has become stay outside.
There’s a wide consensus that outdoor events are significantly safer, from mass media outlets like the Washington Post to more scientific studies (1 and 2). Even better? Vaccines are still demonstrating significant ability to prevent severe illness, and vaccine rates are beginning to rise again.
Municipalities, Businesses, and Participants WANT You to Succeed
There will continue to be regional variations in the strictness of requirements and virus transmission, but compared to a year ago, the big shift is in prioritizing safe ways to be open, rather than looking for what to close. Create a COVID Safety Plan to share with decision-makers in your area to help them understand that you can safely operate your event.
A hybrid race is simply a race with both an in-person and a virtual option. We recommend a hybrid event in most instances, even in “normal” times. Why? Anyone anywhere can participate in your event, broadening your reach and bringing new runners into the fold. Hybrid events are inclusive, providing an option for all types of participants:
An In-Person Option for:
A Virtual Option for:
Hybrid makes it easier to make a switch to an interactive, engaging virtual option if necessary.
The biggest lesson from 2020 is that virtual races CAN be fun and engaging – but only if you put in the work to make them so, with technology like RaceJoy Anywhere, perks like Digital Bibs, and interactive features like playlists. By offering a virtual option to begin with, you have the incentive to start building out a more fun virtual event now, so that it’s ready to go big IF you need to switch more or all participants to virtual.
Resources for Going Hybrid
The next step in your preparations? Think through the details of your race day and consider what modifications you can make (if needed). In some locations, social distancing measures can make events more viable – and even where they aren’t required, creating a streamlined, efficient race day is key to the success of your event. A few areas to consider:
Resources for Modifying Race Day
Want to peruse some more recommendations to find the best ones for your event? We have you covered.
Take a few minutes to refresh your memory on virtual setup and protocols. Getting your virtual option up with all the bells and whistles now will save you a lot of headaches later, ensure a positive experience for your virtual runners, and make for a better transition if you do decide to go fully virtual later.
Go back to the basics and review the virtual Setup Checklist to ensure that you have all the details covered, such as updating our race address (to anywhere!) and adding a custom question to verify that the participant understands that the event is virtual.
Promoting Your Virtual Race
Virtual races are a great opportunity to get back to the basics in race promotion. Communication is key, so your first step is touching up on email marketing and automated emails. But the biggest takeaway from 2020 is that referral rewards are even more effective for virtual events (referrals made up a whopping 17% of transactions in 2020, compared to 7% pre-pandemic), and that social options like teams and Facebook groups enhance the event.
Swag and Fulfillment
Create and communicate your swag plan now. A few things to consider:
Focus on Fundraising
If your main goal is raising money, sometimes the best virtual option is the simplest. We saw significant traction from free or low-cost virtual events in 2020 in which supporters just wanted to do something to help the cause. Get some inspiration from previous virtual fundraising ideas, or review the detailed steps for setting up a fundraising-focused virtual event.
A Virtual RaceDay Experience
Technology is critical for making your virtual race day feel real. First up, make sure you have a handle on setting up virtual results (or talk to your timer). Then, work with your timer to create a custom audio experience through RaceJoy Anywhere, and set your participants up with digital bibs and finisher certificates. Finally, encourage participants to share their successes via participant uploaded photos and social media interaction.
Resources for Going Virtual
Want to build confidence in your participants? Be transparent and clear about your intentions and backup plans.
Provide Information on Your Website
Make it easy for participants to find the latest info by adding a section to your cover page, creating a separate menu item for COVID-19 information, and/or adding an FAQ with details about your COVID plan.
This tool, first introduced in March 2020, was originally introduced as a way quickly gather answers to participant options when events needed to postpone, cancel or go virtual at the last minute. With pre-planning this year, you likely won’t need it for that reason – but it’s a good idea to take a look at the tool, if for no other reason than that you can also use it as a simple pop-up for your website with the latest information (and no information collected).
Quickly provide updates (or reassurance) with email marketing designed to go to every participant (up to the second).
Resources for Communication
Celebrate everything. Share photos of your events, congratulate your participants, and enjoy the success.