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VP of Event Strategy & Operations, Micah Rice was featured in a recent episode of The TrainRight Podcast from CTS.
Adam Pulford interviews race director, cyclist and sports events professional Micah Rice.They talk about what types of cycling events are leading change in the U.S., why the destination and experience at races are changing how participants are choosing their races, and Micah’s mountain bike stage race the Pikes Peak APEX. Episode Highlights: - The rise of gravel racing - Mountain bike stage races -The future of road racing - Why a race’s destination and overall experience are a driving force .
On the final day of Economic Development Week 2021 and just shy of 16 months since the U.S. confirmed its first case of COVID-19, we are emerging to see a world that looks more familiar. Unprecedented achievements in medicine have enabled rapid vaccinations, and the CDC just relaxed masking guidance for those who are vaccinated. It’s hopefully not a minute too soon as the country begins to slowly rebuild from the financial and psychological toll the pandemic has left on our collective psyches.
While the financial markets may appear to indicate differently due to the huge amount of cash flooded into them, below the surface the damage is staggering. The U.S. alone has lost over 560 thousand lives, over 22 million jobs and an estimated $16 trillion for the cumulative cost related to health reduction and lost job output (The Covid-19 Pandemic and the $16 Trillion Virus, David M. Cutler PhD; Lawrence H. Summers PhD.).
Our industry in particular was hit hard by the pandemic. While the retail sector of the outdoor recreation industry saw big gains as consumers sought out activities to keep busy and active during the quarantine, the tourism sector, along with the destinations and locations took a major financial hit as travel stopped and cities closed for tourism. With the rollout of vaccines and the acceleration of them being administered, over half of the jobs lost have been recovered and people are beginning to travel again.
This is great news for sports tourism, along with the Destination Marketing Organizations and economic development agencies in communities that will rely heavily on sports events and outdoor recreation as part of their recovery plan. Sports - particularly related to travel and outdoor recreation - will serve as a lifeline to communities in need revenue to refill coffers drained during a bleak 2020.
While there have been isolated outbreaks related to sports events, it has also been proven that with a solid COVID-19 mitigation plan, events can be run safely and successfully. As we strive to reach herd immunity, outdoor events are ideally suited to operate safely. At Sports Strategies, we lived it firsthand at the 2020 Pikes Peak APEX in Colorado Springs last September. With valued input from medical professionals, the support of state and local government officials and the safety buy-in of the competitors and race staff, we developed and executed a COVID-19 Mitigation Plan that proved an event could run safely while still being enjoyable for the participants. We are currently working on other events that will take place in the coming months, and we expect those events to operate according to a much more relaxed plan, but everything is fluid in this new post-COVID environment and dependent on herd immunity.
The most important thing for communities post-COVID will be to safely attract people en masse. Sports events have been proven effective in this regard, and sentiment indicates people are ready to travel. While we wait for the time when we can all gather safely at mass capacity in arenas and natatoriums, we can meet outside in some amazing outdoor spaces. Outdoor endurance events have an incredibly low chance of spreading the disease. So, this is the time to get creative and find ways develop and drive in sports events that will fill up your fields, trails, rivers and open spaces.
Earlier this week, SportsTravel magazine and Northstar Meetings Group hosted the seventh annual SportsTravel Road Trip in Colorado Springs. Sponsored by our friends at Visit Louisville, the Road Trip brings together many of the National Governing Bodies in Colorado Springs for a day of programing and discussion around Olympic Sport. It is always a good time to catch up with friends over a drink in the evening, and the programming during the day always is solid.
Our outing during the gathering was a private tour of the yet-to-be-opened Olympic Museum in downtown Colorado Springs. Opening in a few months, I can confirm it will be an amazing space speaking to the history of the United States in the Olympic Games. A real treat for us to take this VIP tour.
This year didn’t disappoint, but all seemed overshadowed by the COVID-19 issue. It was clear that this would probably be one of the last in-person conferences that we would have for a while. It did spark some good debate as we were just getting some information about social distancing plans to come. The content was focused on sponsorship and best practices for sports events, but much of the “water cooler” talk was how most sport organizations were starting to prepare for a shutdown.
It will be interesting to see how all of this sorts itself out over the next few months—we all fear that this situation will have quite an impact on sports events for the spring and summer.
Thanks toeditor and publisher of
The final stop on my southwestern trip was the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race just north of Tucson, AZ. This is an Epic Rides event that has been going on for 19 years. Essentially they build a small city in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and race bikes for a weekend. 2500 racers, along with families and friends come by to check it out. It is quite a party.
A solid expo, food trucks, and industry partners all set up and enjoy what many consider the kick-off to the mountain bike season in February. I was there to set up a booth to advertise for the Pikes Peak APEX, an event we are developing and delivering for our client, PPORA. It was fun to join in and be a part of the party. I handed out a few hundred discount coupons to the event as well as spoke to many folks to get some ideas about why they loved 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Hats off to Epic Rides for a heck of an event—it was great to see a solid bike race linked up with such a great party!