When the COVID-19 crisis struck, the Houston Marathon Committee decided that they wanted to create a virtual experience to bring their community together in a unique way and turned to haku’s robust platform of virtual products to help. With virtual event popularity rising as social distancing measures continued to be enforced, the Houston Marathon Committee and haku worked closely to create a differentiated “virtual challenge” event with an enhanced participant experience.
“We were noticing that a lot of virtual runs were coming into the marketplace and while they were keeping people moving, they weren’t capitalizing on the comradery that our community is built on,” said Muffy King, Director of Marketing, Media, and Brand for the Chevron Houston Marathon. “We wanted to come up with a unique event that made people feel like they were doing something together, even though they couldn’t be together.”
With the help of haku’s innovative virtual solutions, the Houston Marathon Committee was able to revolutionize the now commonplace virtual race into an all-encompassing participant experience called the RunHou 100,000 Mile Virtual Challenge.
“As soon as we told haku the idea, they got everything together really quickly,” said Amanda Sandoval, Director of Participant Services for the Chevron Houston Marathon. “They never said no and always followed-through, which was important for making this event a success.”
In less than a month, the Houston Marathon Committee was ready to launch their event with a real-time social wall, leaderboard, virtual bibs, finisher certificates, and more through haku. By implementing these features into a more unique virtual challenge format, the RunHou 100,000 Mile Virtual Challenge became a spectacular experience for their community that exceeded expectations and drove high engagement numbers.
"Everything came together in less than two weeks," said King. "The team made major adjustments to the platform and the work they were doing to help. Instrumental isn't even the right word for it. haku was more than that."
With the RunHou 100,000 Mile Virtual Challenge being a new type of event, the Houston Marathon Committee and haku’s participant support team worked together closely to support and guide participants, making sure they had a phenomenal experience.
"haku came to bat super quickly and provided step by step instructions along with an instructional video to send to our participants," said Sandoval. "haku also knew everything about our race and were ready to assist if participants reached out with any questions. Their customer service is phenomenal, not only to us but to our participants."
After the success of the RunHou 100,000 Mile Virtual Challenge, haku and the Houston Marathon Committee came together and extended their partnership agreement for an additional four years. Entering a multi-year deal, the Houston Marathon Committee and haku are excited to continue their partnership that will enable more successful events and amazing experiences. With haku leading the Houston Marathon Committee into the future of innovative endurance technology, they’ll always be one step ahead in what’s coming next.
"I'm excited to be able to extend our contract because we adore our haku team," said King. "This is a true partnership where we both care about the participants and bring the best to Houston. There are so many possibilities that we can do with the haku platform, and we're looking forward to continuing to build on that."
haku is an unparalleled technology partner that forward-thinking event organizers are working with to plan, manage, promote, and sell-out their events. Through state-of-the-art technology and an all-in-one platform, world-class organizations can better plan events, track progress, engage with participants, and move their events and businesses forward, all while utilizing an all-encompassing technology ecosystem. haku is trusted by organizations such as the Boston Athletic Association, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon Organization, J&A Racing, Houston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Atlanta Track Club, Philadelphia Eagles, Mercedes Benz Corporate Run, and many more.
To learn more about haku, please visit www.hakusports.com
About the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc.
Established in 1972, the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. (HMC) is a founding member of Running USA and annually organizes the nation’s premier winter marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. Over 300,000 participants, volunteers, and spectators make Chevron Houston Marathon Race Day the largest single-day sporting event in Houston. Recognized by World Athletics, the Gold Label Chevron Houston Marathon has been the race site for three U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons and the Gold Label Aramco Houston Half Marathon has hosted 16 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. For eight consecutive years, the events have garnered Gold Certification from the Council of Responsible Sport and were also awarded the 2015 AIMS Green Award for industry-leading sustainability initiatives. Race Weekend generates over $50 million in economic impact for the region annually. In addition to its economic impact, the HMC facilitates social responsibility through its Run for a Reason Charity Program which has raised over $32 million since its inception and the Houston Marathon Foundation, which serves the greater Houston area through support of youth and community organizations that promote access to and participation in running. The event is televised by KTRK ABC13 and syndicated nationally and internationally airing annually live on ESPN3 and the Longhorn Network.
For more information, visit www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com or call 713.957.3453