A note from Lonnie Somers:
A few weeks ago, if you had told me we would be looking at not returning to some sort of normal by May, I would have thought that is highly impossible. Well, the impossible has happened! The one constant is that everything is fluid right now with a lot of uncertainty. This has no doubt led to a whole new complexity in producing your mass endurance event, regardless if it is in the summer, fall, or winter of this year. We are all facing the effects!
We have continued being part of many consortiums of experts over the last several weeks from events, registration partners, medical partners, and our peers. We are compiling a lot of information in this guide to help you navigate the effects this pandemic and thus the economic and social shutdown is having on your event. We are here to help you in any way we can, so please always feel free to reach out.
All of what we are providing is as of the time of this writing. How we would advise and consult with you even a week ago, has changed based on the ever-increasing data that has come in. We hope this assists you as your organization faces many new factors in your event planning process.
We will be covering the following areas in this series:
- What is the current and potential likely state for events in 2020
- What to consider in cancelling (or postponing) your event
- What should you be doing to protect your event
- If we move to a virtual option, what options are available
- How is HAL Sports here to help
We will keep communicating with you and assisting you through this. We are here for you!
All our best for your health,
Lonnie & Michelle Somers
CURRENT AND LIKELY STATE FOR EVENTS IN 2020
What is the current and likely state for events in 2020? Hamlet might have said, “To be or not to be, that is the question?”, but for all of us today, the real question is when will things return to normal? The truth of the answer is, no one knows. In our history, we never have had to deal with what really amounts to a full war against an alien invader (COVID-19) that has infiltrated every community across the planet in a span of just a few months. What most of the experts can agree on is that until there is a vaccine, a return to pre-COVID-19 word is unlikely to take place. So, what does that mean for your event?
Regardless of when your event is in the year, it is going to be affected – No event is going to be immune to the effects of COVID-19. From mandates around mass gatherings and events, major recession (personal disposable income), comfortability in people attending events, resources available for your events (getting enough portable restrooms, volunteers, all as examples), and enough time to properly market your event.
Don’t focus on what the current stay-at-home order expiration dates are – these are very likely to change and even if they somehow do expire without any continuation (hopeful scenario), it is very very likely that social distancing and mass gathering restrictions will be in place for some time. This will certainly determine your ability to successfully produce the event.
Why? Regardless of how you feel about the appropriateness by governments around the pandemic, the reality is we cannot risk the ability of our health care system to treat those that are ill. We certainly don’t want to get to a point that the health care system has to decide who gets treated and who doesn’t due to a lack of resources to care for those who are sick with COVID-19. Let’s not also forget about those that are sick with cancers, heart disease, strokes, etc. still need to be cared for too. We also cannot risk the ability of police and fire departments to respond to emergencies due to their workforce being affected heavily from the virus, we have to spread this out to ensure our safety as a society.
The reality is that COVID-19 is going to be with us for many many months (until the vaccine) and people will still be getting sick and people will still die from it. The goal for our society is to control the infection to a level that allows some of the economy to start back up without causing a large spike in cases that could overwhelm or medical resources and ability for people to safely work.
Registration numbers are likely to be down – economically, while we may not have a declared recession, make no mistake, we are in one. Our estimated unemployment rate has estimated to have jumped almost 10% in less than a month. Even those that are fully employed are watching spending and while we think most people will still want to attend events if they can afford to, they likely will be registering for a lot less of them.
Have a plan in place if you have to cancel or postpone your event – No event is safe from having to think about the possibility of cancelling or postponing. It does not matter if your event is in 60 days from now, or in December. It is better to have a plan in place now on how you will handle this versus waiting and scrambling last minute if you need to do something. As with all crisis and emergency plans, it is better to be prepared as best you can for them than it is to be caught without a plan.
If your event can take place, have plans on how to keep your participants safe – It is reasonable to expect that when events can take place again, there will be required precautions to limit possible mass contamination. Safety is your number one priority! You need your participants to feel you are doing everything you can for their safety, regardless if it is mandated or not. Make a plan on how you will keep contamination risk low. This encompasses every area of your event. Just a sampling of things to consider are:
- Spread out start areas so participants are not in close proximity together
- Elimination of post event expo/festivals to discourage large close proximity gatherings
- Ensure all volunteers and staff have at a minimum have gloves when handling anything being given to a participant (medals, food, water, bibs).
- Portable restrooms may need to be spaced out more, disinfected frequently, and markers placed for cues to ensure participants are not in very close proximity while waiting
- Packet pickups may need to be spaced out more and have markers where participants stand in line to also ensure safe distances.
- Having extended event times that may require smaller subsets of participants run/walk/participate before the next group can participate.
- Having portable sinks and hand sanitizing stations
- Only have package foods to give out
These are just a sampling of areas you need to consider how you will handle to keep participants safe. Have a plan and reserve your needs with your suppliers early so they can accommodate the demand. I can tell you first hand finding portable sinks and having more portable restrooms has been challenging as many of those suppliers are being inundated with needs from the makeshift hospitals, construction projects, etc. as they have to add additional resources to ensure safety of their employees, etc.
Our personal opinion (while we pray this is not the case) is that it will be at few months before we even know if run/walks and other participatory events can take place. When they are allowed, they likely will have certainly requirements and restrictions. While there has been some touting that everything will bounce back as fast as it ceased (and we hope we are wrong about this), realistically it is going to take some time and the current consensus is that we will not see things as they were pre-COVID-19 until we can vaccinate all of those that have not been stricken.
More posts in this series:
COVID-19 and Events Series Post #1: Current and Likely State for 2020
COVID-19 Event Series #2: What should you be doing to protect your event
COVID-19 Events Series #3: What to consider in cancelling (or postponing) your event
COVID-19 Event Series #4: Considerations for moving to a Virtual Event
HOW HAL SPORTS CAN HELP
We have always been and always will be there for you to support you, your events, and your causes in any way we can. We always have your back and work hard to do all the research, find best practices, and help you navigate all the challenges you may face. We are here to make everything as easy for you as possible and be the experts for you, especially in crisis situations.
We are here to help, and here are some of the offerings we are providing to you under this pandemic at no cost or minimal cost.
Virtual Run Management – we can manage fully your virtual event in all aspects
Virtual Run Fulfillment – we will fulfill all your event packets, mailing, and distribution to participants
Consulting – we can provide additional consulting to your organization on any of the areas we have covered in this guide.
Video Messaging – Lonnie, who announces many events professionally, can record video messaging that can go out to your participants with updates and news about your event.
Virtual Event Announcing/Hosting – Lonnie is available to virtual host/emcee your event with live video, recorded sound, etc.
Need something else? Just drop us a line!!!
Photo by Chander R on Unsplash