As states and communities begin to re-open during the Covid-19 Pandemic, our energies are focused on planning for events in a totally different environment. As we progress, we know two things for certain:
- (1) Our industry was one of the first to shut down and we will be one of the last to reopen
- (2) the experiences you had at races prior to March will be very different from what you will see – at least in the short term – going forward. This will include everything from online registration, to packet pickup and expos, to limited fields, to reduced on-course services, to scaled-down or no post-race celebrations.
Our ability to race will depend on when groups of 100 or more people will be allowed to assemble, so Glory Hound Events is closely monitoring the updates from the state and county, surrounding counties, and organizations as well as our friends in the registration, running, triathlon, and cycling communities to get a sense of what the future of racing might look like. The following is a reflection of our reading of the tea leaves and educated speculation. Like this whole pandemic, it will undoubtedly continue to change and evolve as we continue to move forward.
Online registration – Once the gates open, registration will be fast and furious with all of this pent-up desire to race being released into the market. For races with limited fields, this might mean earlier sell-outs and no walk-up registration. For races that aren’t sold out, online may be the only option as a way to minimize contact at the race venue. During the online registration process you may start seeing new questions asking about your history with the virus, as we attempt to keep racers and races safe.
Race Fields – The size of social gatherings will be governed by state and local governments, but the days of large races may be far off still. Races that had 600 participants in the past, may now be limited to 200. Races with thousands of participants may not be held at all in 2020.
Packet Pickup/Expos – The way we interact with the public will be the first challenge, when staffs and volunteers meet the racing public. In the early races, racers may see our folks in masks and gloves, separated by plexiglass windows. Racers may also be required to wear a mask or have your temperature taken to receive packets or start the race. Packet pickup periods might also be longer, to spread out the crowds. Mailed packets may also become more popular, as well as less race swag offerings to make the process go quicker.
Race Starts – In an effort to maintain the 6 foot or more social distancing rules, racers may see staggered starts over a period of time at venues/courses where that is possible or starts may be in time-trial form (1-2 people going off every few seconds). We predict the days of packed starting lines will not return for a while.
Course – Once racers are on the course, volunteers and course marshals may also be in masks. Spectators watching will probably be doing it from a distance. Aid stations may become self-serve only, where participants carry their own bottles and supplies similar to the trail running world.
Post-Race – Like the starting line, the finish area may also look different. The traditional post-race parties, where runners and friends celebrate, may not occur for a while. In its place, racers may be directed to a location to pickup a bottle of water and some pre-packaged food, then asked to head to their car. Awards may be done online and medals sent through the mail or have an options to pick up in a safer environment.
If all this sounds dystopian, that is not the intention. This is just our speculation at what the “new normal” in racing might look like, at least for the near future. Hopefully, as testing evolves and a vaccine becomes available, we can return to a world of racing that everyone knows and loves. One thing is certain, we will live to race again. The show must go on.
All the best. Please be safe, well and kind.
About Glory Hound Events
Glory Hound Events was started in 2006, initially managing the historic Bele Chere 5K. Shortly after that first year the Lake Logan Triathlon was introduced and eventually became a part of the Lake Logan Multisport Festival. Glory Hound Events is now the largest endurance event management company in the Western North Carolina region, producing an average of twelve events annually. In addition to producing its own events and those for a variety of clients, Glory Hound Events offers consulting services for events outside of Western North Carolina looking to take theirs to the next level.