What to Expect on Race Day This Fall
As you’re likely very well aware of, the status of a lot of events has remained in limbo for late summer and into fall. Guidance for the event industry has been hard to come by and so much remains unknown. However, we have been working diligently on how we can provide a safe, fun event given the current conditions and restrictions, while also looking ahead to what the next several months may hold.
We are excited to let you know the event is still scheduled and to share some changes so you’re ready for race day! Each location is different and we are putting plans in place that are workable by location. Further, and we will say this several times in this post, we are constantly monitoring the situation and as long as local and state government permits, we will relax some of these as we can.
When making decisions for all of our fall events, we looked at each venue, took into consideration the layout, space, time of year, and an entire slew of other criteria. We are ironing out all the various changes with the number one goal, as always, to keep people safe while also providing a fun experience that we all look forward to. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some changes we will be implementing:
Wave start times with a rolling start at some locations
Wave and corral sizes that will be based on current group gathering guidelines and increase as allowed
Considerations on course (widened paths where available, signage for safely passing others on course)
Elimination of the water station (please BYOW if you need water during your run)
Streamlined packet pick-up
Streamlined finish chute
Separate area on site to receive your medal(s), banana, water, pumpkin, and apple cider
Staging all areas to provide more social distancing when available
Not allowing for spectators
Safety measures for all volunteers and race staff
And, of course, plenty of hand sanitizer
We have been working behind the scenes the last couple months and had to make some tough decisions. Event planning is not the easiest thing in the world (it is a lot of fun, though!) and COVID-19 has thrown a huge wrench into it. For a while, we debated cancelling all of our fall events and promoting our Virtual Run for 2020. While we still have the virtual option, we decided we should closely look at each event and make some choices.
We looked at all of our 21 events and took into consideration the time of year, past experience, volunteer numbers, and the space we had to work with. We knew events later in the fall had a better chance of being allowed to proceed whereas events earlier would likely need a lot more measures when it comes to things like social distancing.
For our farm events, we spoke with the owners and discussed having smaller waves over several hours instead of larger corrals all at once. Eliminating touch points like water stations, streamlining packet pick-up, and not allowing for spectators to crowd the start line also help.
For urban events, waves wouldn’t be possible. We therefore looked at the time of the year (i.e. early fall vs. late fall) and compared it with current projections as well as local guidelines. For instance, we have two urban races at the end of October and into early November we felt would have a good chance of happening as planned with some extra precautions.
Past experience is also crucial. The events we kept on the schedule are repeat events we do each year. We know the farm owners and city officials. We have great volunteer numbers (one of the most crucial aspects to any well-planned event!) We have options in site layout so we can do the things we want to do to produce a safe, fun event.
We made the decisions the last week of May based on the guidelines at the time. Events don’t take weeks to plan; rather, they take months and months of preparation under normal circumstances. It’s even tougher now given the curveball that is COVID-19. We needed to get to a point where we could forge ahead in planning and know that unless things take a turn and get dramatically worse, we would be able to host the event!
There are tons of details that go into race day including:
- Site plans
- Volunteer recruitment
- Booking vendors (tents, restrooms, etc.)
- Spreading the word to runners and walkers
- Booking services (EMS, security, etc.)
- Purchasing (medals, water, lightweight tech hoodies….)
- So. Much. More.
All of these need to be well thought out and cannot really wait until the last minute. Making adjustments now allows us to feel confident that the event will take place later this fall. Further, it should also make our runners, walkers, and volunteers feel confident when they go to sign up now. If we took a ‘wait and see’ approach, nobody would feel good. It’s much smarter for us to put these changes in place now, forge ahead, and, if possible, relax some of them come fall!
What Will Race Day Actually Look Like?
We’ve said it before in this post and now we’re saying it again. All these changes are, well, subject to change. We are still paying close attention to local and federal guidelines. If we feel we can relax some based on that come race day, we will! For example, right now, we are not permitting spectators. But, if by race day we can, we will!
Some things will remain the same, even if we are allowed to relax them. One instance would be how you get your medal and apple cider. In the past, you’d receive your medal in the finish line chute. This caused a lot of congestion, so this year we are setting up a separate area nearby to get your medal, apple cider, and pumpkin. Procedures like this take planning. In this example, we have to set-up volunteer shifts to make sure we have help to execute this. We also need to rent additional tents, tables, and build this into our site plan that requires approval.
Beyond being able to actually plan and host the 5K this fall, we quickly realized some of these changes are pretty good ideas in general! We’re excited to see how they work and look forward to your feedback as some may be things we want to implement longterm.
A few quick benefits:
- Farm events typically have congested courses due to narrow paths, etc. Starting smaller waves every five minutes over several hours will greatly alleviate the congestion and provide a better experience!
- When you have one single start time (i.e. 9:00AM) and 3,000 people arrive at a farm all at once, you get traffic. But, if we spread waves out over several hours, parking will become much easier on everyone due to people arriving at different times.
- Less people packed together makes for better photos!
- Moving medals, water, and bananas outside the finish line chute eliminates any potential backups or congestion.
As things appear to get better and better when discussing COVID-19, we are very confident in our current event schedule. Some of these measures may be overkill by the time fall arrives, but we needed to at least implement them now so we can plan ahead. If it’s safe to do so come fall, we will relax the ones we can! And, we are excited to see how some of them could potentially be built into future years based on feedback from our runners and walkers after the event.
We know a lot of people are excited to get outside and participate in a race. We’re equally excited to keep the fall tradition alive. Stay healthy, stay active, and we’ll see you soon!
(PS- If you’re in, click here to choose an event and sign up!)