Webinar Recap: How to Host a Successful Race this Fall

Race directors everywhere are adjusting their protocols to meet local guidelines and ensure runners are safe. While there’s no “one-size-fits-all” version of what you should do, there are lessons to be learned from every event director who successfully navigates new procedures.

In this webinar, GiveSignup | Sales Lead Bryan Jenkins was joined by Clint McCormick, the Event Director at Run Toledo to cover:

  • What type of information you should collect from registrants, and why
  • Recommendations for collecting vaccination information from registrants
  • How Clint was able to host a successful event during a changing environment 
  • And more!

If you want a review, you can find the recording below.

Policies from Around the Industry

Bryan kicked off the webinar with a look at some of the ways that major US races are handling COVID protocols (all subject to change, of course). These include:

Chicago Marathon

  • Vaccines are encouraged; proof of vaccination is required if indicated vaccinated
  • Negative test within 72 hours of the event for those not vaccinated
  • Face coverings required for Expo Attendance

New York City Marathon

  • Field size limited to 33K vs 50K normally
  • Additional bag check time of up to 48 hours before the event.

Boston Marathon

  • No athlete village
  • Additional $25 COVID fee
  • 2 negative tests regardless of vaccination status

Bryan’s Best Practices

Your safety plan is never just one thing. Depending on your area and the size of your event, a few best practices to keep in mind regardless of whether you decide to require vaccines:

  • Always follow state and local guidelines!
  • Look into local testing and vaccine options
  • Wave starts or corrals
  • Outdoor packet pick-up and check-in
  • Prepackaged goods
  • Ask volunteers and race staff to wear masks
  • Social distancing
  • Ask staff/volunteers to stay home if they feel sick

Collecting Data Around COVID & Vaccines

We highly recommend making your COVID requirements clear and requiring participants to agree to them ahead of time when it’s feasible. However, you need to be careful and intentional about the types of questions you ask and the data you collect – neither our platform nor your organization is setup to handle sensitive medical information.

What do we recommend asking participants to agree to?

  • Your COVID-19 policy
  • To CDC/State/Local Guidelines while attending the event
  • To waiver language
  • To comply with safety policies and procedures

What you SHOULDN’T ask:

  • Avoid all medical HIPAA data!
    • Do not ask IF the participant is vaccinated
    • Do not ask if the participant (or anyone else) had COVID-19

Example: Instead of asking for vaccine status, add a custom question with a yes check-box requiring them to affirm that they understand a vaccine will be required. Handle any vaccine status-checks separately.

Recommendations for Collecting Vaccine Information

  • While there are apps, etc., that can help large races, they are likely not feasible for the average race and it may be simpler (and more HIPAA-compliant) to do it offline.
  • Be familiar with state and local rules
  • Participant can show vaccine card as proof
    • Checking at packet pickup is best
  • Do not upload proof of vaccination
  • Do not record/capture verification of status

Lessons from Clint

Clint joined from Run Toledo to discuss his experience implementing new policies at his races, including being one of the country’s first races to require a vaccine or negative test at the Glass City Marathon. They put on multiple races in their area, most of which range from 500 participants to 5,000 participants. His key takeaways from the last few months included:

  • Consider using medical professionals and those with a strong bedside manner to do the vaccination checks instead of your regular race staff.
    • Puts runners at ease to see the medical team doing the checks
    • Keeps race staff out of the process
  • It’s your race. Do what you think is right, and participants will have to accept that.
  • Move away from intimate, tight spaces (like gyms) for packet pickup, and take advantage of outdoor venues for more time and more space.
  • Size matters! Processes for 500-person races won’t be the same as those for 5,000. You can keep the same general policies, but it’s OK to adapt depending on specific situations.
  • Put all COVID protocols into your information early and clearly. Ask people to agree to abide by policies up front
  • Keep optics in mind. You want to play nice in your community and put your neighbors minds at ease.
  • Communicate and meet regularly with race directors in your state and area for a temperature check of expectations in the area.
    • But remember, there will always be local discrepancies.
  • Eliminate paper with online registration only.
  • Offer early and extended packet pickup to allow for spacing.
  • For a kids event where it may not be feasible to require vaccines, consider more distancing and masking options.

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