We have a lot of truly impressive customers who are using their creativity to help them navigate this crisis. This page will be updated regularly with new ideas and inspiration.
Creative uses of the Postponement Tool
Creative Virtual Races
Virtual Challenges and Virtual Communities
We called it the Postponement Tool (race >> cancel or postpone race), and most races are using it with options...but it can also just be a simple, clear way to leave cancellation (or other) message on your website.
The Big Hoopla 4 Miler simply kept all options turned off and added their own personal messaging for participants navigating to the site. In conjunction with an effective email and social media strategy, this can be a smart way to make sure participants aren't confused by old information on your site.
The Oakland Running Festival is using the Pop-Up tool for options - but not the built-in options. Instead, they turned off all automated options, and used the text for the pop-up to provide their options. These included both an option that required no action (staying registered for the new date in August) and options that required action (deferring or opting for a virtual run). For the options that required an action, they outlined the participant management instructions for the runner to defer their registration or transfer to the virtual run.
This method means the race director does not have to manually transfer runners based on their report, but make it clear for the runners what actions they need to take.
The Art Car IPA 5K wanted clean, simple messaging for their options, but wanted a different look and process from the pop-up. Key factors included:
The steps they took were:
For runner communications, they sent clear email communications to direct runners:
Voila! Race, updated.
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:
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.
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:
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!
Semper Fi & America’s Fund Community Sports
One of Semper Fi Fund‘s most prominent programs is their Community Sports Program that encourages athletes to user athletic events to fundraise for their cause. With so many in-person races postponed or cancelled, Semper Fi Fund is looking for creative ways to keep their community involved – and raise a little money for their cause in the meantime.
Semper Fi & America’s Fund 19 Days of Quarantine Virtual Challenge
Introducing their new America’s Fund 19 Days of Quarantine Virtual Challenge. This challenge is the definition of inclusive: it’s low-cost (just $5) and includes all types of quarantine activity – walking, running or biking (indoors or out), as well as working out on home workout equipment or home exercise classes (like Zumba or Crossfit). Participants complete as much activity as they can between 3/27 and 4/14, submit results via online form (no proof required), and are eligible for “mystery prizes”. Engagement and interaction is encouraged via their Community Athlete Facebook Page.
Raising Money with a Low-Cost Event
While their entry fee is low and accessible to everyone, Semper Fi Fund is able to maximize fundraising by eliminating overhead and encouraging (but not requiring) donations and fundraising. In early returns, nearly half the registrants elected to also make a donation, and a handful are fundraising.
Using New(ish) RunSignup Tools
Semper Fi Fund is also taking advantage of two of the newer Runsignup tools, including a pop-up on the registration page that allows potential participants to get in touch with the organizers, and custom descriptions on the “Register” and “Donate” buttons at the top of their page.
Training AND a Race
What sets the Social Distance Run apart from other virtual challenges is that it is not a single race or a cumulative set of challenges. Instead, it’s a training schedule for a full 8-weeks of running, with the participant choosing their ultimate distance to complete in the final challenge. Runners can choose distances to train for ranging from a 5K to a 50K – an option for everyone!
For a virtual event, this one has all the bells and whistles. There are multiple options, but the premium tier includes:
What really makes it special?
Race organizers are used to selling specific things: a cool race course, accurate race timing, a crowded and excited finish line, etc. In the absence of all of those, Orca Running is focusing on engaging runners with their other strengths: knowledge about running, a sense of humor, and a set of tools to encourage people from a distance.
When the Charlottesville 10-Miler was forced to cancel, they found themselves hearing from participants who had been training hard and were determined to run the distance regardless.
Recognizing that the value of the event is just as much about the fitness and preparation as the final results, the race is offering a free virtual run that allows runners to cross the “finish line” on their own, and appear in official results. This low-key, low-frills event is all about keeping runners running and giving them the opportunity to complete the event they have been training for.
For runners who want to pretend it’s the real thing, the official course will be marked on what would have been race morning. But that’s not the only way to participate – the course map is posted for runners to test it at another time, or runners can complete the run elsewhere or on a treadmill (no one should travel to the area to complete the official course).
The virtual race – and it’s value to the community – was featured on a local news site.
Like many communities, Downtown Boulder has seen many employees laid off, furloughed, or otherwise impacted by shutdowns. In response, the Downtown Boulder Foundation (DBF) created a support fund to provide on-time gifts to eligible employees, and setup the Downtown Boulder Employee Assistance Fund Virtual Run Series.
The virtual run is free, with no automatic swag. It’s simply a starting point to get people engaged with the true mission – raising money! Runners can purchase a shirt ($15 of the $25 benefits the organization) if they want on, and results are reported via the RunSignup’s Enhanced Virtual Results Submission. To make it easy, they have included a custom page on their website with clear, concise directions for submitting results.
Everyone is a Fundraiser!
All runners who register automatically become fundraisers and have a fundraising page automatically created for them. From there, they can share their page with friends and family and encourage them to donate.
But it’s not JUST Runners…
The virtual run is a nice hook, but the organization wants to get everyone involved. They creatively renamed their action buttons to be “Race Sign Up” (aka, the standard “SignUp”) and “Giving Portal” (aka, the standard “Donate”). Through the Giving Portal, anyone can either donate to a current fundraiser, or become a fundraiser themselves – no running required.
The prizes given aren’t for the fastest runner. Rather, a $250 gift card to a downtown business of choice will be awarded to the top fundraiser each month, along with a monthly random drawing of five $100 gift cards for additional fundraisers.
In Moorestown, NJ, where RunSignup originated, the Moorestown Rotary Clu and Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department are working together to assist their local at-risk residents with their Moorestown Neighbors Helping Neighbors fund.
A Donation Website
Moorestown is skipping the running (this time) and going straight to the heart of the matter: collecting donations for groceries and other necessary items. Their super-simple Donation Website has a clean, easy donation page to collect money as efficiently as possible – as well as a Donation Form that can be shared.
Want to Be Like Moorestown?
If you’re a 501(c)3 nonprofit (or are setting up something for a 501(c)3), you can be like Moorestown, too! Get an overview of Donation Websites and Donation Forms, and then watch the webinar on Donations and Fundraising in the era of COVID-19.
Charm City Run is also supporting their community with their Live Give Run Virtual Race Challenge to support the Maryland Food Bank and the University of Maryland Medical System. In the challenge, runners can chose between a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon race distance and complete their race between 4/17-4/30.
Results for each race can be submitted through Enhanced Virtual Results – and to make it easy, they’ve linked the results page directly from the Race Info Page – and the submission button also shows when they go to the Results tab of the website. To keep it interactive, selfies are also encouraged with the hashtags #livegiverunvirtualrace and #charmcityrun.
While many virtual races don’t offer prizes for winners, this one will! To ensure the integrity of the race, the top three men and women will be asked to verify their times with a photo of their treadmill report, GPS time, etc – a nice solution for events that want a true winner, but don’t want to verify hundreds of results. Winners are eligible to win Under Armour Machina shoes, a Charm City Run Gift Card, or an MVP subscription to MapMyRun .
Swag, with a heart.
There is swag: all participants receive a specially designed “Maryland Heart” pin for the event. However, to maximize the donatable proceeds from the event, all runners have the option to cover the $3 cost of manufacturing and shipping the pin.
Pick your Team
In a truly cool twist, Charm City Stores across the region are engaging in a battle for the highest participation level. The race used the Groups/Teams feature to make each Charm City Run Store a “Team” – and runners can pick their side (or team) during registration. The Store with the most participants earns a $10 store credit for the first 200 participants registering for that store’s team!
What can you find on your run?
Throughout the month of April, the club shared a list of 75 scavenger hunt items on their Facebook event. The challenge is simple: go for a run (or walk), find the scavenger item, and share their finds on the Facebook event (or email them in). Prizes are awarded for a range of categories (finding the most items, finding the most unusual items, etc.). A few fun ones: a pink flamingo, something with the number 13 on it, a steamroller, and a lonely sock. You can check out the full list here.
Free (sort of).
The scavenger hunt is free to participate in. However, for participating runners with the means to do so, donations are encouraged – those donations will be donated back to the businesses that support the Utica Roadrunners. So far, each participating runner has donated an average of $11 to help their community. Only a few items require you to be local to Utica, and it’s not too late to sign up if you still want to join the fun!
The 19-year-old Harpoon 5-Miler is a popular race that raises money for the Angel Fund for ALS Research, and usually sells out. Rather than give up – and let down their charity, they’re taking this year’s event virtual. To mimic the race day experience, they are limiting the event to a one-day virtual race; they are discouraging use of the official course or running with anyone else to ensure that safety guidelines are followed.
The virtual even broadens the pool of potential participants, and the race has options for both locals and those who want to join from their own state or town. The “6-Pack” Option is for non-locals, and includes a bib and virtual swag, whereas the “12-Pack” Option for locals who can pick up stays true to the spirit of the event with a 4-pack Harpoon beer, as well as a t-shirt and additional swag.
A Virtual Race, a Virtual Party
As a brewery, a big part of the draw for their event is the post-race beer and party. While Harpoon won’t be able to gather people for an on-site party, they’ve set up the event to encourage people to keep the party spirit from home. In addition to the included beer in the 12-Pack option, they provided some recommendations for finding one of their beers from anywhere in the country. Even more fun? Their usual DJ will be putting together a playlist for runners to enjoy, and they are working on a set of online costumes and programming to connect runners on race day.
Focus on the Cause.
The Harpoon 5-Miler is a fundraiser for the Angel Fund for ALS Research, and they’re just as committed to the cause this year. Even as a virtual race, they’re keeping their focus on the cause, with clear website sections dedicated to introducing the charity and personal features (The Captain & John Gullage) about why the charity is important. Just like any year, donations are encouraged, and runners are opting to become fundraisers (or create fundraising teams) – and it’s working, with 40% of participants opting to become a fundraiser.
Yellow Jacket Racing is using their free time to both offer a virtual event and get rid of the clutter. Their Spring Clean Virtual Race repurposes old race supplies to create an inexpensive virtual racing option. Each runner signs up for their preferred distance (5K, 10K, or Half Marathon) for just $20 – and in return, they get an array of swag from previous Yellow Jacket Racing events. The swag bag includes:
Connect with Local Runners
While not a formal part of the event, participants are encouraged to join the Facebook Group “WNY Running is not Cancelled” for a community connection to local runners.
It’s not a 5K. It’s FOUR 5k’s.
Vendurance Sports is amping up the virtual 5K with a simple tweak: multiplying RaceDay by 4 to create the Run Solo Project Virtual Runs. Why? More running value for the runner, without adding costs to the organizer.
While the idea is catching on, there are still a lot of people out there who just don’t know what a Virtual Race IS. Run Solo Project layed it out in three easy-to-understand components.
First: Steps to Completion:
Second: What do I Get?
Third: No, REALLY. I care about the Swag.
Supporting the Running Community with Teams and Built-In Donation
$20 of each $50 registration fee is donated to a running community institution – one of the running stores, running/track clubs, or school cross country teams that they partnered with.
Each participant selects their “Team” during registration – those are the running stores, clubs, and schools listed above, and donations to each are made accordingly.
50 Hours to Complete 50 Miles
The Weekend Warrior 50 Hour Challenge is a weekend event from Upstate Ultras that lets the runner chart their own course. It gives participants 50 hours (from 5:00pm on Friday to 7:00pm on Sunday) to finish 50 miles – however they want to get there. Each runner can choose any weekend in May to complete the challenge.
Event Appropriate Swag
No average t-shirt for this one – instead, the race offers swag with your average trail ultra-runner in mind, including a Trail Buff, Sticker, and Sunglasses. All swag, along with a unique, handmade medal for anyone completing 50 miles, will be shipped to participants.
The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee is taking the above weekend challenge…and supercharging it to give runners something to do allllll summer. The team behind the Barkley Fall Classic, Barkley Marathons (and more), otherwise known as Laz & Durb, with technical expertise from Bad Mike) has put together a truly unique virtual challenge – running 1000K from May 1st through August 31st.
The 1000K challenge isn’t just a random number – it’s an actual mapped course across Tennessee, beginning from the Mississippit River levee near Anthonyville, Arkansas up to the high trestle branch off of Buckeye Hollow Road, way up in the Appalachian Mountains. Runners can follow along on the map to see their progress throughout the summer, with the race sharing pictures, stories about history, geology, and points of interest that runners virtually pass.
All registrants will get a t-shirt; finishers will get a medal. For the most ambitious, there is also an out-and-back 2,000K option that comes with it’s own medal.
Donations to Feeding America are integrated into the registration process to raise additional funds for Tenneseans struggling with hunger. This simple, lightweight donation structure is paying off – to date, more than $25,000 have been raised for the cause.