The 2020 Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way both organisers and participants look at mass participation events. Social distancing, additional personal hygiene, changes to the rules and more have all led organisers to consider offering virtual versions of their events. It has also opened up a whole new potential market in self-timed and self-supported events where people can follow a pre-determined route (physical or virtual) but still ‘compete’ with others.

The foundation for all of this already existed within the Results Base online entry system and its integrated low-cost timing service, LiveTiming, which allowed us to produce what we believe is the only fully-integrated virtual event solution in the market today. For a quick overview of the options/functionality please see this short presentation.

The virtual event options currently available include:

Distance and/or time events

These are either your classic 10k, half marathon, etc where the distance is fixed and you will record a finishing time or an allowed time where the distance travelled is recorded. These are generally used as a straight replacement for a postponed or cancelled event or as a direct alternative for those not wishing to race with others but who still want to be part of the event.

Segmented events (multisport)

Typically involving multiple legs where different activities are undertaken: run, bike, run for example. Times are recorded for each leg and the total calculated or input by the participant. Activities can be continuous or separate.

Challenge events

These are generally of a longer distance and will require multiple activities to complete: Pennine Way, Southwest Coastal Path, London to Paris cycle, etc. The route can be shown on a map with the distance achieved marked and there can be waypoints that are treated as achievement awards – typically these are either physical landmarks or set distances. These events can be done solo or as part of a team.

All event types can be set to take place over one or more days, they can be set up as repeating so, for example, each week you might have a choice of three distances to ride or run or walk. You can enter just one week or all the weeks of the series. Events of this type will generally also have a Series Summary results page where, for example, a person's 10k time from each of the four weeks of the series are totalled and ranked as an overall time.

Online entry

The full online entry system is available for any virtual event. This includes all the standard functionality including:

  • Discounting and voucher codes
  • Invitation and campaign entry links
  • Customised email receipts
  • Full email service for event information mailouts with scheduled and automated options
  • Multiple event pages for Ts&Cs, instructions, etc
  • Full conditional question structure for gathering additional information
  • Downloadable customised bib number for local print or as a souvenir

Merchandise

Integrated shop functionality allowing:

  • T-shirt size collection (free or paid)
  • Additional event merchandise such as hoody, buff, cowbell
  • Supplementary items like camping, bus tickets, etc
  • Direct link to charity donation pages
  • Email generation for third party fulfilment or postage options

Timing solution

Times can be recorded in one of three ways:

  • Manually input (eg time taken off a conventional watch)
  • Manually input but linked to an activity (eg using a smartphone or fitness tracker that records the activity online)
  • Integrated stopwatch on the entry Ticket - phone acts as the timing device
  • Automatically input by linking to a Garmin Connect or Strava account

Results

Results are calculated and displayed in real time as they would be for a conventional event and all the standard Results Base functionality is available:

  • Category results by age and/or gender (including non-binary)
  • Speed and pace calculation
  • Fully customisable certificate for download
  • Results stored in entrant’s profile for review/comparison
  • Cumulative totals (eg if the event has a 10k each week for a month you get a summary of those times accumulated and ranked)

Use cases

We have produced and run many virtual events for our customers during the past months. In excess of 10,000 entries have been taken and results produced for, among others:

Run the World - event replacement for Leicester Marathon with combined runner effort pushing an avatar around the world plus an integrated inter-club competition

Lockdown Outlaw – event series replacement over three months with multiple multisport distances

Lakesman in Lockdown – two-day event to replicate the postponed physical event (over 1300 entries)

Run and Ride for Pieta with BMW – organised series of duathlons for Triathlon Ireland (over 3000 entries)

Virtual Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 - replacement for cancelled physical ultra distance event (over 2500 entries)

Keeping you running – multi-week motivational runs for Tape 2 Tape

Multiple events of varying types for Maverick Events with series leaderboards (one series event alone had over 3000 entries)

Multiple events for Big Cow Sports, Raw Energy Pursuits and others to engage local communities that would have lost physical events