Race Director Perspective

by Eric Opdyke, Rev3 Triathlon

THE NEW NORMAL

It’s time to start defining the new normal.  The COVID-19 pandemic is sad on too many levels.  When people ask me how I’m doing, my first thought is that I have my health and feel great.  Many are not as lucky.  It’s just a matter of perspective as it’s too easy to feel sorry for yourself and be pessimistic. 

Like many other industries, the event world has been decimated.  As a small business owner in the events world we aren’t able to do what we love to do.  Fortunately I am a sole proprietor and I don’t have any employees I have to worry about.  I have worked hard in the last year to keep my overhead to a minimum.  But this is my full-time job.  There are no unemployment benefits to apply for.  None of us know how long this is going to last.  I would be remiss if I just sat back, waiting and hoping for the best.  Just like the event world it’s time to start developing Plan B and C.  Do I weather the storm?  Do I fold the business and look for other employment?  Hard to imagine anyone hiring right now.  Do I seek a small business loan to help bridge the gap?  These are a few of the thoughts running through my head.

Even if this period is temporary and we can get back to mass gathering events in the next month or two, this will be at least a two year negative financial impact.  Once an event is unable to take place, you cancel, postpone, or turn it into a virtual event.  In most situations I will try to postpone the event this year.  Since I give people the option to defer their entry to next year, it impacts me this year and next year at a minimum.  Can I bank on 100% of my customers all of sudden signing up?  No way.  Many have stopped training and chalked up this year to the year of the coronavirus…..Let’s reboot and race again next year they say.  95% of events in this industry are held by small business owners like myself.  Many do it as a hobby for fun or raise money for a great cause.  Others like myself do it for our living. 

MADE IN THE USA

Over the last decade, there has been a movement towards supporting small, local businesses, and “Made in the USA” companies.  In recent weeks, I have been encouraged to see this movement gain tremendous ground.  The small businesses within our communities are hurting right now, and more specifically, with the race/events community.  We must ensure their survival.  While there will always be a place for large brands, it’s the small businesses that foster those exceptional and personalized experiences that we all value.  When you support US and local businesses, your tax dollars stay in the community to help expand local development.  And in most cases, small businesses like mine support other small businesses, creating a positive ripple effect.  If triathlon customers get behind this movement, it could make all the difference. 

What can you do right now?

  1. Don’t give up on racing this year.  Tentatively plan the rest of your season out but be flexible if it doesn’t go according to plan.  Many companies like REV3 have frozen prices so it won’t hurt you to wait a little longer to register once we know when we can get back to mass gathering events.  Many events have been postponed until later in the year.  Adjust your schedule if you can. 
  2. Stay active both physically and mentally.  Maintain a base fitness level and even experiment with other forms of exercise.  Find challenges to stay motivated. 
  3. Create virtual engagement within the triathlon community.  I am taking part in race director happy hours and video conferencing with many of contractors and peers. 
  4. Race this year and next year as often as you can.  This will help the industry get back on our feet. 

We have built a great social media platform over the last 10 years with outstanding loyal customers.  We are going to use this opportunity to keep offering our guidance, resources, and support to keep you moving, engaged, and motivated to get back to the sport we all love as soon as we can.  Let’s weather this pandemic and support each other so we can reunite very soon. 

Remember, keep TRI-ing!

Eric, Rev3 Triathlon

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