The Coronavirus pandemic has many concerned and rightly so. While none of us has a crystal ball to really know what the downrange medical fallout will be, we do know that the financial effects will be felt far and wide. As event coordinators, we are very concerned about the repercussions to the non-profits that we work with. These non-profits host these events because they help to raise much needed funding to satisfy their organizational needs. While participants attend these events to have fun, win an award, have social interaction, meet a goal, or possibly to just support the organization, the organizations are hosting them out of need. In most cases, they are hosting the event to raise money and not for the pure pleasure. Hardly anyone puts on a race just to do it.
The impact that will be felt for these races will not only be caused because of a drop in attendance, but even more so if the event is forced to cancel due to the virus concerns. What many participants don’t realize is that races don’t actually make a lot of money from these events except through sponsorship. Your entry fee has to cover awards, t-shirts, permits, food and beverage, venue, security, timing, music, etc. In most cases, the races have already spent funds to cover these costs and need the registration fees to recuperate. The hope for an event is that there will be enough registration fees to cover all expenses. If not, then they better have sponsorships to take up the slack.
With this virus outbreak, we expect that many races will be forced to cancel. While we hope that most participants will understand, there will be those that are outraged and will demand their money back. If you are one of those that must be refunded, please work with the race director and not simply dispute your card charge if you paid online. What most don’t realize is that when you dispute a card charge, the credit card companies charge the vendor a chargeback dispute fee of $15 or more. Your dispute will not only cost the race the registration fee but will also incur the additional chargeback fee. If enough people did that, it could bankrupt the non-profit. If an event does not cancel but you are uncomfortable attending, please just consider it a donation. Please do the ethical thing and either make the donation or work with the race director.
While we would we rather not cancel any events, we also recognize that we may not have a choice. Athlete Guild is recommending to its customers that have to cancel, that they simply turn the event into a virtual race. These races have put a lot of energy and money into designing shirts, medals, and other swag. Postponement simply causes the event to incur even more costs as they often have non-refundable venue fees and other costs that can't be moved forward. We are happy to take those times and include them in the results for the event. The athletes will have a record of attending the event (albeit virtually), will have received their swag, and the non-profit will have collected needed funding for their operations. Our platform can be easily managed to handle this to include online dynamic results for the virtual participants to include finisher certificates. Let’s try and make the best of a bad situation.
See you at the race!