The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region of Oregon hosted several successful sporting events this summer — despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.
From the onset, the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission was actively involved with health officials to help define and establish safe and manageable protocols for regional sporting events. Event organizers implemented creative strategies throughout the summer to meet the state and local mandates while keeping their events fun and engaging for all the participants.
“The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission worked directly with two separate youth baseball tournament organizers to host multiple tournaments in July and August, and also worked with a group putting on a long-distance road cycling race, or Gran Fondo,” said Joey Jewell, Senior Director of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission.
The Oregon Gran Fondo is an annual cycling event organized by Mudslinger Events that takes place in Junction City. Mudslinger Events, which focuses on promoting both a love of cycling and a love for the unique Oregon outdoors, wanted their event to be safely attended by all. With the cancellation of some of their earlier events in 2020 and the postponement of the Oregon Gran Fondo, they worked with the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission to develop a strategy to meet the required state guidelines. To make sure everyone stayed 6-feet apart on the 108-mile ride, they implemented a staggered start time with 10 minutes between each small wave of cyclists.
As rest stops and aid stations are a necessity of every race, Mudslinger Events installed several un-manned aid stations with sanitizing equipment. Drinks and snacks were set up ahead of time in accordance with food and beverage guidelines to ensure minimal to no contact was made.
With these important factors taken care of, state mandates didn’t impede from the rest of the fun with cyclists being able to explore and eat (while social-distancing and wearing masks) at the different local breweries and restaurants post-race.
This was the 46th year of the Scandia Run and organizers were determined to make it happen. The Scandia Run, which has options of a 10K, 5K or an untimed 4-mile walk, is held in Junction City during the Scandinavian Festival. The Scandia Run is a local favorite and is met with great enthusiasm each year. But with festival cancelled, the planners of Scandia Run knew they would have to be flexible and creative to pull off a successful and safe event.
With state guidelines mandating that only 250 people could be on the course at any given time, the Scandia Run organizers staggered start times with a set number of people in each wave. When participants signed up, they could choose a starting time based on 10-minute increments. Only ten people could sign up for a spot at any time with the earliest start times assigned to those runners qualifying as “elite” (under 6-minute pace for men, under 7-minute pace for women). Participants were required to wear masks while in designated areas and encouraged to socially distance. Co-race director David Luke said, “The passion level is very, very high. We just didn’t want it [Scandia Run] to not happen. We didn’t want a little asterisk for 2020.”
The Scandia Run was a huge success, and the community came out in full support. Travel Lane County’s CEO, Kari Westlund, and VP of Stakeholder Relations, Andy Vobora, both participated in the event and reported that they were excited to get to run this year and were pleased it was such a success.
During July and August, Northwest Nations, a youth tournament baseball organization, held four tournaments in the Eugene - Springfield area; and West Coast Premiere Tournaments held four. Most of the games were at the Ted Norman Memorial Baseball Complex which has four state-of-the-art baseball fields each with bullpens and dugouts. Even though some of the teams were from out of the county, they were respectful and considerate of their host community guidelines. Not only did they make sure and wear masks while playing and in the dugout, they made sure everything was properly sanitized and cleaned down before they left the complex. They exemplified and emphasized good sports etiquette both on and off the field. Local residents were thankful that the teams all adhered to the safety protocols and are ready to welcome the events back in the future.
“The summer went incredibly well, all things considered,” Jewell said. “Not a single person contracted COVID-19 from these events, some of which included participants from outside the state in early July. Not only did these event planners follow all the guidelines, but they even went above and beyond what was required of them. It was their respect for our community’s health and well-being that allows us to continue to work on future opportunities that can help stimulate our local economy.”
These examples show that there can be a path forward for you to host your event in the region next summer. Contact us today to bring your event to the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region!