Virtual Racing

1 The Isolation Age

With the country in lock-down and all sport, including athletics(?!) on hold, you could be forgiven for heading for a pit of despair; no group training, no banter, no competition!!!

Fear not, because OpenTrack, alongside the sport’s forever hard-working officials and volunteers, have got you covered … VIRTUAL RACING.

 

 

 

Already in action from the 21st March, Thames Hare & Hounds hosted a inter-club 5km race whilst Belgrave Harriers and Herne Hill Harriers hosted a virtual 12-Stage between them. On 4th April, the Virtual National Road Relay went ahead, getting 5000 entries. And from 22 April, we’re opening our platform to the whole of the UK, thanks to support from the four Home Country Athletics Federation. All over the world, races that would otherwise be cancelled are going virtual, hosted on OpenTrack.

1.1 What is Virtual Racing?

Encourage participants to run the specified distance within a certain time-frame. Submit results from Garmin or Strava. We work out all the team scores and rankings, and try to display it nicely. You can see what everyone else did!

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Fig.1 - Mobile Race Results.

Please take care that in these difficult times, you avoid crowds and go out at quiet times. Otherwise, you might get this new sport banned!

1.2 New Features, small changes

With the assistance of OpenTrack these races have the perfect platform to be hosted and displayed with attractive results alongside instantaneous scoring and Strava/Garmin route upload for quality checking . . . not that you can’t be trusted, but the club just behind you will want to check!

OpenTrack are working to provide some fun new features to help facilitate this and scale it up. New features include:

  • Easily filter and find the Virtual Races on our platform
  • Specify the ‘racing window’
  • Submit your own results easily with one copy/paste from Garmin or Strava
  • Charitable donation options on any race
  • Competing at arbitrary challenges, not just distance running

1.2 Benefits for everyone!

This provides an excellent opportunity for everyone to keep training hard to stay fit, maintain their competitive spirit and provides a fair few bored officials with something to do!

You’re lucky to be able to run, so why not raise money for people suffering due to the virus?

2 How it works

2.1 Who’s the organiser? - You Are!

Anyone can organise a Virtual Race on OpenTrack - 90% of it is just like setting up a normal competition. You, as the organiser, can set the challenge

  • fixed distance run anywhere?
  • fixed course at a time of your own choosing ?
  • combined-events-style fitness challenges?

Our system will find athletes in the same club, and work out all the team scores and category prizes for you.

There are typically three stages to a competition:

  • open up the entries, and take the entry fees if there are any.
  • during the racing window, people submit their own results, usually from Strava or Garmin (although Youtube may be used for evidence). Meanwhile, live team scores are building up all the time!
  • you may then have a scrutiny window, when officials look at results, add penalties for short or downhill courses, and teams can review each others’ results.

Throughout the whole thing, expect your club’s social media channels to come alive like never before!

We guess most people will put on virtual replacements for the existing athletics calendar, but there are no real limits, as long as you are making sure people distance properly and observe local rules!

Why not come on our forum and discuss some Virtual Racing ideas?

Just one thing: we’d prefer a lot of little races than single huge ones - it spreads out the support workload!

2.2 Fundraising for Covid-19, and how we handle money.

Athletes are used to paying entry fees, but taking a lot of money to let someone run on their own is frankly implausible (although some competition organisers are trying this!)

Our system can take paid entries in any country where the Stripe payment platform is available. So, why not put on your usual open meeting, set an entry fee or an optional charitable donation, and raise the money for your local COVID-19 appeal fund? (We’ll also set up an account linked to the UK’s biggest one to make it easy?)
To receive money, you need a Stripe account.

If you are raising money for charity, and we have a national contract, there will be no deductions at all, apart from the credit card fees (typically 1.4% + 20p per payment, the cheapest we know of)

2.3 Costs

The cost of using OpenTrack’s competition management system depends on the type and scale of event being hosted. There is no upfront charge.

Federation / National-Governing-Body (NGB) club competition

In countries where an unlimited-use contract has been agreed with the sport’s national governing body (NGB) use of OpenTrack’s systems is free of charge for virtual competitions organised by clubs, regions and national federation. Current NGBs with unlimited-use contracts include the United Kingdom, Estonia, Belarus, Malta, Norway and Cyprus.

Organisation competition

For other organisations, and clubs not covered by their NGB, a charge of £1 per athlete is set. Organisers have two options for payment

  1. Organiser pays – Once competition entry has closed, OpenTrack will send an electronic invoice of the total charge incurred to the competition organiser.

  2. Athlete pays – While competition entry is open, OpenTrack will deduct £1 from the race entry fee charged to athletes. Organisers are required to setup and integrate with OpenTrack a Stripe Account to process athlete competition entry fees and automatic fee payment.

Organisations wishing to trial OpenTrack’s system may set up a free 10-partipant competition.

Race entry fees and charity donations processed through OpenTrack incur a 1.4% + 20p charge to Stripe, the card processor, in most countries. (The charges for overseas cards are alightly higher)

For questions about the per-athlete fee or the cost of tailoring the competition management system to your needs, please email OpenTrack

2.4 Terms

Our standard terms for meeting organisers are being re-developed, but our basic principle is this: we only provide a platform to manage teams and aggregate scores from solo activity. Athletes are basically training alone, and doing so at their own risk.

2.5 What next?

Come on our forum and chat about things. Or, contact us to discuss in private. Or, click one of the links below!