Race organiser asks runners to compete virtually in bid to save business

The organiser of a series of cancelled races this weekend is hoping participants can run them virtually to help save its business.

RunThrough Events has been forced to call off 19 races in total before the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak, putting the company’s future in jeopardy.

The weekend events, including 5km, 10km, half-marathons and marathons, have been cancelled at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Arley Hall in Cheshire, Manchester’s Heaton Park and Bedford Autodrome.

An event was due to take place at the Olympic Park
An event was due to take place at the Olympic Park (Stefan Rousseau/PA).

Refunding all 5,000 entrants would be very costly and RunThrough has suggested people now run their distances solo, at a location of their own choosing, and then submit their times to create a virtual leaderboard.

Ben Green, 33, who co-founded London-based RunThrough in 2013, said: “We are in huge trouble. We have 12 full-time staff that need to be paid.

“With the uncertainty nobody is entering any of our events from June onwards. We have got to try to get through this but we don’t really know what is going to happen.

“We now want to deliver the biggest virtual race. We want people to get out and run and send us their times.”

Organisers offer entrants the chance to run the Cheshire 10K virtually
Organisers offer entrants the chance to run the Cheshire 10K virtually (runthrough.co.uk).

Green says so far the response has been positive. All who run virtually will still receive medals for competing and be offered a discount from a future event.

He said: “We wanted people to know we weren’t going to run away with their money, but we have paid a lot of our costs and have no income.

“About 1,000 (so far) have said they will run the race virtually, so people want to support us.

“We have tried virtual races before and didn’t really work but the circumstances are different now.”

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