We’re checking in regularly to see what the endurance community is doing to keep the industry running forward in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. For more ideas, view you can find all the previous highlights archive here.
Today’s highlight is a look at a single program taking hundreds of races virtual: Healthy Kids Running Series.
Healthy Kids Running Series is a nonprofit “race-in-a-box” program with locations all over the country. In a typical year, Coordinators within each community make use of supplies, plans, and marketing materials from the HKRS headquarters to setup a multi-week race series with age-appropriate distances for kids. When it became clear in March that the series would not be able to run as usual, the staff kicked into gear to figure out a solution.
Immediately, a message was posted using a pop-up to let participants know that the team was concerned about the situation and would be in touch with the next steps forward.
Converting to Virtual
Ultimately, the team decided to move the series to a first-ever Healthy Kids Virtual Running series. While participants were also given the option to defer, the majority elected to join the virtual fun. The team jumped into action:
Each series in each location has it’s own separate race page, so there was a lot of updating to do. Over the course of a few days, the team had:
- Updated the language on every site to reflect the “virtual” series A
- Added a fun new virtual logo.
- Updated the times for each race day to allow for completion throughtout the day
- Changed the pricing structure to reduce the price, but eliminate the option to register for only one race day (instead of the full series)
- Confirmed preferences for participants, and ensured they were all registered for the right location and season.
The key elements of transitioning to virtual include:
- Course Creation: Usually, the coordinators measure and mark all race distances. This year, parents will have to do it for their kids – so headquarters provided some ideas to help parents measure appropriately. For creative parents, they can map out new courses (of the same distance) each week!
- Results Reporting: Parents are encouraged (but not required) to submit results each week via a Google Sheet provided by their coordinators. It’s all for fun, though!
- Community Connection: Without close contact allowed, coordinators are creating virtual spaces for families to share their experiences via social media.
- Swag: To keep costs low, coordinators will hand out t-shirts and medals at a medically safe time, following the series.
- FAQ: To make sure all details were clear to families – many of whom had never heard of a virtual race, headquarters created a clear and comprehensive FAQ.
Communicating with Coordinators
Since every site is run by one (or a few) local coordinators – and the coordinators have most of the communication with local families – it was crucial that they all be brought up to speed as quickly as possible. All coordinators were sent new materials and received virtual training to help them communicate and execute on the changes.
- Coordinators all got a brand-new toolkit, with marketing and communications geared towards selling the virtual event, social media images, and more.
- How-To videos to share with participants – for example, to teach parents how to measure correct course distances for their children
- Instructions for having parents report results (they are using a Google-sheet that parents can edit, to keep it simple)
- Social Media Training. Coordinators have a wide range of social media savviness, but HKRS immediately recognized that social media would be crucial to maintaining the sense of community and connection that makes the program special.
- A weekly bulletin to keep coordinators updated on what they should be doing.
How’s it going?
With the new Virtual Healthy Kids kicking off this weekend, the early signs are impressive:
- Positive Feedback: While everyone is sad to miss the regular series, parents from across the country have reached out to express their gratitude to the program for allowing them to maintain some tradition and structure.
- Creative Coordinators: Coordinators are having fun with their new role as social media gatherers, making fun videos for Facebook and Instagram, and encouraging themed weeks and costumes for their runners.
- Family Participation: Healthy Kids always tries to engage the whole family in the fun of activity, and that’s translating to virtual – in some ways, it’s even more of a family activity with the parents now creating the courses for their kids each week. And on week 5, moms and dads are still encouraged to join in the “Parent Mile”!
- A Global Community: One benefit of going virtual: anyone can join! While most families are still participating with their local group, there is now an opportunity to run wherever you are. Healthy Kids has their first International runner, with one previous participant who has since moved to Germany re-joining her old program. Additionally, some familes opted to “transfer” locations to allow them to participate with family or friends living in other states.
Not Too Late!
The inaugural 2020 Healthy Kids Virtual Running Series is starting this weekend, but it’s not too late to join – they’re still open for registrations for late-comers looking for some fun, socially distant outdoor activity!
Doing something creative and fun to help your community? Let us know!