The World of Endurance Sports May Change Forever Due to Coronavirus

Although the curve is beginning to show signs of flattening, it is difficult to determine if and when society will return to normalcy. For endurance sports coordinators, this may mean a complete and total shift in the way the industry functions, and whether it will continue functioning in the future...

Joe De Sena, the chief executive of Spartan (they put on races similar to the style of the Tough Mudder), has marked his calendar for July 1st. According to him, this will be the day of the next Spartan event. Although gathering thousands of people together to breathe heavily in a close-quarters environment seems like the one thing that you want more than anything else right now, this is a pipedream through the eyes of the CDC. 

In fact, it's likely that the world of endurance sports will never return to its former glory. Since the Shelter in Place orders swept America several weeks ago, roughly 5,000 road races, 775 cycling events, and 250 multisport events (triathlons and the like) were canceled or postponed for the safety of the participants. Racing directors have furloughed and laid off employees to save cash, but still, the industry may implode due to enormous financial losses and angry would-be participants.

It is particularly difficult for endurance-event businesses to sustain through this time of uncertainty since registration fees fund the events almost entirely. If the event business is non-corporate (most community event coordinators operate independently), having to suspend or cancel an event that has already been planned can nuke the business indefinitely. 

Larger companies, namely Ironman, have opted to postpone their tickets until 2021 instead of offering a refund. Some Ironman tickets are in the $1,000+ range and plenty of the individuals that were able to purchase the tickets when they did have since lost their jobs and are currently dependant on the unreliable unemployment stimulus system. 

Needless to say, plenty of athletes are pretty ticked off. 

In lighter news, some endurance sports coordinators are looking for modernized ways to emulate their events using virtual reality and streaming outlets to keep their participants engaged. However, these events do come with a pricepoint (purchasing an exercise bike and/or VR gear) that a fair deal of would-be participants are unable to meet given the current state of jobs in America. 

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