UPDATED 3/16/2020 at 8:30pm
COVID-19 & Event Production turned Upside-Down
As most of you are aware, on Thursday, March 12th at 5pm EST, the City of Asheville, Buncombe County and the State of North Carolina declared a State of Emergency (click here for official proclamation). Due to this state of emergency it is prohibited for any organized group of 50+ persons to assemble. We were full steam ahead with plans, and all of our back-up plans which ranged from B to Z for the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate, which was to take place starting on March 20th thru March 22nd, until we received this message from our city officials.
On Sunday, March 15th the CDC in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
Because of the threat and risk of the COVID19 to our participants, volunteers, vendors and staff, we feel a strong sense of urgency to do our part in protecting our people from possible exposure. We started being proactive when we cancelled our largest event of the year, the Asheville Marathon and Half. It was with heavy hearts that we made that decision - only a week away from the event. Our staff, non-profit partners, sponsors and volunteers work extremely hard, year-round to make this event happen (along with all our other cycling, swimming and running events, and our clients’ events).
Impact of Event Cancellation –
No one ‘wins’ in an event cancellation.
Cancelling the Asheville Marathon event IS an enormous financial hit for our small business and staff. Although we are not issuing refunds for the event (we had a no refund policy in place already when folks registered for the race, and before COVID19 effected this event). With a week out from the event, expenses have been incurred from the entire year of planning and preparing. Some of those expenses includes: planning expenses, staff time, permits, bibs, shirts, buffs, medals, merchandise, water station snacks and gels, supplies, insurance, equipment, rentals, signs, print materials, deposits for rentals and equipment, the list goes on and on…The revenues that we would receive (our profit) at the event (late ticket sales, merchandise sales, partnership deals, sponsorships owed, etc) will not be received because the event didn’t take place.
Instead, we have set up a virtual run on race weekend and are mailing participants their race swag. This is the very best possible replacement that we can do in our power given the circumstances of the COVID19 and the laws we have to uphold.
First and foremost, we are runners, cyclists and endurance loving athletes ourselves and we understand the commitment, sacrifices and incredible journeys all our participants go through to prepare themselves for an endurance event, which is why it has made all of these recent business decisions extremely difficult for us.
Impact of Deferrals and Postponements
Participants are asking us about deferrals and postponements and questioning why we aren’t doing these. At this time, it is unclear whether we will be able to put the Asheville Marathon and Half event on next year or any of our other events this year, so we do not want to promise a deferral or transfer into another event. Also, because SO MANY spring/summer events are postponing to the fall, we anticipate a saturated endurance event market, which will lead to low participant numbers and multiple events happening on the same days. This will furthermore cause frustration to participants.
There is also a great deal of uncertainty of what the permit process, food handling, crowd management, etc will look like when events are permissible again. All things to consider when doing a postponement for a future date. In addition, postponing an event also means that you have an unreasonable expectation for your volunteers, sponsors, host sites, venue, participants and partners to be available and postpone with you to the new date. For all of these reasons we are not an advocate of deferrals or postponements in this uncertain time we are currently in.
We are receiving a lot of questions about our insurance policies and if we have insurance to help cover refunds, revenue losses, event expenses and the possibility of more event closures due to the pandemic. We have two policies: One through USATF and the other through a private insurance company. We have been told by both companies that the policies unfortunately exclude pandemic coverage.
What’s next for iDaph ‘owned’ events…
We want to let you know that our iDaph Team does have a plan. First, in our Fletcher office, we have instructed our employees to work from home to protect their health and well-being. If employees do come into our office, they are diligently washing their hands and sanitizing work spaces. We will continue to ship out merchandise from our iDaph store and eventually will be mailing out race swag from the Asheville Marathon.
Unfortunately, it has become clear that we will be unable to proceed in the manner of our current business operations that our runners have come to expect at our events, where the safety and security of our runners, volunteers, staff, partners, and spectators are our main concern.
The love of endurance events and creating life-changing and memorable experiences for our partners and community is why we exist.
We have made the difficult, but necessary decision to suspend ticket sales for two of our ‘idaph owned’ upcoming events that are to take place in the nearest future. These events are the Asheville Triathlon on July 19th, and the Asheville Off Road Series on September 20th, until further direction from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are following recommendations that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
There are so many unknowns at present we thought it best to delay the sale of any additional ticket entries until the situation is clarified. Participants that have already registered have a spot reserved in these two events and if we do need to cancel the event because of the COVID19, we will notify the participants when that information is available.
In addition, we will delay the opening of any additional future event registration sites for ticket sales, until there is certainty that these fall/winter/spring 2021 events can go on safely for our participants. We also must have certainty that our small business is still viable and that the events are able to continue to take place in the locations that they are being held.
The events on delay from opening registration includes the Trick or Trail and Spooky Sprint, Biltmore Park Turkey Trot, 2021 New Year’s Resolution Run, 2021 Frostbite Races and 2021 Asheville Marathon and Half. We hope that if we are able to continue with these events that you will support them by signing up and joining us.
Partner Events - ‘non-owned’ iDaph Events
We will continue to service the ‘managed events’ that we partner with as their go-to, professional event planner. We will be a resource for them as they navigate through this tumultuous time and into the future. We are in constant communication with event management professionals in our field as well as insurance companies, health related contacts and city and county officials so that we can make the best decisions for the well-being of the participants and our clients. We are keeping up with all the latest information, resources and publications regarding COVID19 and the impact on special events and will pass this information along to our ‘managed event partners’ as it impacts their events. This is what our business does and will continue to do and offer for those clients. Contact us if you need consulting advice on your event, we are here to help.
Events that we manage for non-profits and clients in some capacity, which includes event production, consulting, timing, registration, or other custom event production services, will make case-by-case decisions on their process of suspending ticket sales for their events, deferring, postponing, canceling or continuing these events. We will continue to provide updates as we have them regarding our partner events, which are:
WNC Flyer, Tour d’ Apple, Light Up the Night 5K, Firecracker 5K, White Squirrel 5K, Collier Lilly Ride, Spring Century Ride, GNAR, Chamber Challenge, Flight of the Vampire 5K, Kingfisher Crusher, Rock the Quarry, and WCU Mountain Heritage.
Our Thanks… and take good care friends
We appreciate the love and support from our runners, partners and volunteers, and we thank you for your understanding. We are hopeful that the future will be bright for our business and that we will continue to be able to provide you with the events that you have supported and loved all these years! We want everyone to stay safe and healthy while our world continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. After all, without all of you, events won’t be nearly as fun to produce. So take good care of yourself, go outside and run, walk, hike, bike, do yoga at home or outside - practice social distancing but keep doing the things you love to do (just do them differently!).
Let us also try to find ways to be kind to each other and come together and support one another (and support small businesses of all kinds when possible and safe to do so).
Please continue to check our website for updates, and our Facebook and Instagram pages. Your continued support means so much to us.
Stay well friends,
iDaph Events Owner