At the beginning of 2020, the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) was gearing up to host their 13th Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 17th. The medals were being ordered, the course was set, and participants were signing up with excitement as race day was just a couple of months away. But on March 23rd, the state of Virginia shut down all non-essential businesses and banned public gatherings of more than ten people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although a bump in the road, COVID-19 didn't stop MCMO from pivoting to a virtual event by consulting with their innovative technology partner, haku. By leveraging haku’s extensive suite of virtual event products designed to provide the best participant experience in the industry, MCMO was able to execute on their virtual vision to host an extraordinary and successful Historic Half. The event resulted in a 92% participant completion rate and a 14% increase in participation compared to the previous year.
“haku is always there to help us create a successful experience for our running community,” said Angela Anderson, Deputy Director of the MCMO.
With a vision to give participants the same great experience as they would've had during the in-person event, the MCMO worked hand in hand with haku to create an unforgettable race. The, now virtual, Historic Half brought in participants from all over the world to run, upload finish times, listen to curated playlists, download virtual bibs, engage with a social wall, and easily view final results on an event dashboard. With haku, MCMO created a unique experience for each and every participant.
The Historic Half wasn't the first time the MCMO had hosted a virtual run. In previous years, service members overseas ran virtually on their military bases. This gave MCMO the foundation for implementing its new virtual event in the states.
"We already had the virtual concept implemented for our overseas military bases," said Anderson from MCMO. "Our challenge now was how do we do this for a large number of runners."
With a vast number of customizable options, haku has personalized many events to fit each partner's unique needs. With haku’s suite of virtual event products, MCMO generated high customer satisfaction, streamlined workflows, and provided runners with an elevated and unique experience.
"haku worked its magic and delivered," said Anderson. "Whenever we had a challenge, they had a solution. There was never a time haku said that they couldn't do it."
One of the challenges the MCMO faced was getting the entire virtual process in place within a tight deadline. Switching to virtual would mean changing how to post and communicate results, distribute bibs, handle sponsorship placements, and ultimately get participants engaged. The MCMO and haku were able to find a solution to this challenge by building a customized dashboard for participants to interact with during the race, providing top-notch customer support, and using haku's new easy-to-use virtual products to conquer any obstacles that stood in the way with ease.
"It was painless," said Anderson. "haku feels like a part of our team. Every idea that we have, we pull haku into the discussion. We, as a team, come up with these solutions."
As more in-person events pivot over to virtual, a new question needs to be asked: How can virtual events provide a positive impact and enhance the participant's experience? When cities give the green light on larger in-person events, many people may still be skeptical about attending. That's why the MCMO is considering new ways to incorporate virtual options alongside future in-person events.
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, Mercedes Benz Corporate Run, and many more.
To learn more about haku, please visit www.hakusports.com
About the Marine Corps Marathon:
The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the largest marathons in the world. Recognized as “Best Marathon in the Mid Atlantic,” and the “Best Marathon for Charities,” the MCM honors the honor, courage, and commitment of its participants. Also known as “The People’s Marathon,” runners from all 50 states and more than 50 countries participate in the MCM, the largest marathon not to offer prize money. The 45th MCM will be held on October 25, 2020, in Arlington, VA. No federal or Marine Corps endorsement is implied. Connect with the Marine Corps Marathon Organization on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr. #RunWithTheMarines