The Revival of Endurance Events
by Daphne Kirkwood
The normal hustle and bustle of event production is currently at a complete standstill, which means we are in a precarious spot with only three options: Cancel, postpone, or potentially defer events.
The major problem here is that good event planners spend months — if not an entire year — to plan events. Believe it or not, we don’t just set up some tents and equipment and cross our fingers and hope things run smoothly on event day. There are hundreds if not thousands of hours spent ahead of an event with the planning and marketing of it. There are countless meetings with event hosts, cities, counties, police, vendors, stakeholders, non-profit organizations for volunteers and sponsors — and this is just the icing on the cake.
According to a recent NY Times article, the economics of the endurance-event business make a pandemic particularly problematic. Registration fees produce as much as 80 percent of revenues, and 80 to 90 percent of that money is spent on expenses weeks and months in advance of race day, including purchases of medals, T-shirts and permits. A canceled race owned by a mom-and-pop business that has to issue refunds or deferrals can sink the event or the business, said Rich Harshberger, the chief executive at Running U.S.A., an industry trade group.
So what is the future of endurance events?
Letting your imagination run wild with the future possibilities of what endurance events will look like is uncanny. The events may be smaller, they may have staggered start times, and nutrition and water stations along the race route may be a thing of the past. Highly coveted race photos may be plagued with participants and staff wearing newly fashionable facial coverings.
What we do know is that there will be new health guidelines, and event directors are all eager to find out what those will be. Social distancing will be key; there will be new directional signage for packet pick-up lines, and the typical personal interaction between volunteers and participants will be foregone. Events may be required to provide Personal Protective Equipment, and post-event food and refreshments may take on an entirely different new look, Participation and spectator numbers may be capped at relatively small numbers and may be limited to certain age groups that are less ‘at risk’.
So when can we expect endurance events to get revved back up?
Depending on the day and which news outlet you use, you will get very different views on when the world will reopen to sporting events, specifically endurance events. Koz Events in the San Diego area, which is a similar sized company as iDaph Events, is running into the same issues and challenges as we are with planning events in the uncertain future. The owner of Koz Events, Carrie Panek, recently stated in the NY Times Article “I don’t think events like ours will go back anytime soon.” Panek and her husband Tobias both run the company, and they recently laid off five employees, including themselves, so that they could collect unemployment.
New race registrations and revenue have gone to zero. Rescheduling for later in the year has its own problems: There is already an endurance event scheduled for nearly every weekend in San Diego County.
We project that large events and gatherings could take much longer to revive themselves. How large is too large is the question… is 100 people too high of a risk for an endurance event?
According to Bill Gates: “Large gatherings may not be permissible until a vaccine is in place.”
So regardless of when events make a comeback, we know that the revival will be a sweet one. We look forward to the reunion of our endurance event community and all the inspiring people that are in it. Sure, they will look different, but life is full of change; it is inevitable. We are all going through this pandemic together and we will rise again in the same way.
In the meantime, keep taking the best care of yourself that you possibly can, by getting outdoors every day to walk, run and ride your bike. The fitness foundation you are building will be primed and ready to go when events are alive again.
Daphne Kirkwood is a self-made, woman entrepreneur, who meticulously crafts endurance events. Her passion for running, biking and endurance events was ignited nearly nineteen years ago after the birth of her daughter. The emergence of iDaph Events in 2011, originated from her love of organizing, being creative and her innate business prowess. This livelihood has been the light of her life and has sustained her and her two kids and all the other employees and contractors that have been employed by iDaph events for the past nine years.
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