Ever since our very first challenge in 2007, Fusion Adventure Races have at their very core been about combining a celebration both of the many aspects of the human spirit, and of the beauty and majesty of nature.
Each year since we have pushed our Fusionites to the limits of their endurance, encouraged teamwork and camaraderie that people didn’t know they had in them, and lit the fires of competition in thousands. We have cleared long-forgotten trails, brought people closer to the wilderness around them, and fostered a true appreciation for mother Earth. In 2020, we planned to do it bigger and better than ever.
Unfortunately though, fate intervened and 2020 did not go to plan for anyone. The race had been set to take place on the Northern side of Tobago, our dedicated team had cleared the route, and our sponsors had generously supported our ambitions, but it was not meant to be. We first postponed our scheduled 28th March Fusion Lite in Tobago to the 7th November 2020 and then cancel it entirely as the pandemic continued to affect our lives.
We are proud of the fact that never before in our 13 years of events have we had to cancel or even postpone one of our events, but the health of the inhabitants of our beautiful islands has to come first, and so we made the only decision available.
Like the thousands of Fusionites that have felt like giving up and quitting but pushed on through though, we decided that we weren’t going to let this mountain to climb stop us. We rolled up our sleeves, got to work, and set about making the beginnings of an idea a reality. We set about making the Fusion Virtual 7 Series Challenge.
The Trials and Challenges of The Fusion Virtual 7 Series
So, with our minds made up not to let down all of the eager Fusionites out there, we had to go about making a replacement challenge to bring people together, and give us all something to strive towards in these uncertain times. What we came up with, was the Fusion Virtual 7 Series.
We planned the series to be spread over seven months, with a different mission for each month that could be completed by our competitors at any time during that month. They would still go to the route start, run the route and return to the finish line, just by themselves or in small groups according to government guidelines, instead of with all the people they are racing against. These runs would still be timed, and everyone would still be competing against each other, just not at the same time.
We felt that this approach provided the perfect compromise to ensure the safety of not only our Fusionites but everyone on our islands, while also giving people the opportunity to compete. We also felt that it would help give people the motivation to keep pushing themselves in a period where for many that motivation has been difficult to find. So, with this in mind, we wanted to make sure registration was free for everyone to help as many people as possible, and bring us together in a time where we are often forced to be apart. We were happy with the plan, but it was not going to be easy.
7x More Missions, 7x More Routes, 7x More Work
The first, and most obvious challenge we faced, was the sheer amount of work this new plan had given us. No matter who you are or what you do, suddenly having seven times the amount of work in front of you would probably give you more than a few headaches. We were no different.
To say that it has been a challenge is an understatement, but it would also be an understatement to say that our team has been anything less than exceptional. Every single one of them has stepped up to the plate and then some, and we are incredibly grateful to have them with us here at Fusion.
Our trail finders scouted out more trails than we even knew existed, and our trail clearers have been right behind them every step of the way. Unfortunately though, the sheer volume of work wasn’t the only hurdle we had to jump over.
Building the Challenge to Keep Things Fresh
The next big hurdle was the fact that not only did we need seven distinct, varying, and exciting runs, but that we wanted to build in difficulty with each mission. We felt that this was essential to give our Fusionites constant motivation to be improving and grow as athletes and as people. While it has made the challenge for our trail finders and organizers that much harder, we are confident that the final result is more than worth it.
Virtual Missions Means No Guides
As if we didn’t have enough to keep in mind, the added difficulty of organizing virtual races like these is that there can be no guides or stewards on the route to ensure our Fusionites stay on course! To keep this issue to a minimum, we have spent even more time perfecting our routes to ensure that wherever possible the route is obvious, combined with extensive markers and mission instructions detailing exactly what route the athletes should take.
Dealing with all of these challenges hasn’t been easy, but inspired by the spirit of our athletes themselves, we have managed to overcome them and are proud of what we have accomplished.
Planned Pros and Unexpected Bonuses
No matter how difficult the Fusion Virtual 7 Series has been to put together though, it is important to say that the results have been more than worth it. We have been overwhelmed by the response we have received, and people all across our great republic are getting out and getting involved. Aside from the obvious benefit that people exercising more is always a good thing, we thought it worth taking a look at some of the good we have seen come from the Fusion Virtual 7 Series so far.
Motivating People Through These Tough Times
This was undoubtedly one of the biggest motivations we had for putting on this series of missions, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Targeting missions each month has provided motivation for countless Fusionites to take care of themselves and move more despite the strangeness of the times.
People Seeing New Parts of the Islands
For many runners, it is easy to get into the habit of just heading out from your front door and heading off on one of three or four set routes that you end up running over and over. There is nothing wrong with this, and it is the most convenient way to run, but there is something to be said for treading on new and exciting pathways. These adventures have been exposing our participants to beautiful flora and fauna that they may not have ever come across otherwise, and are often seeing entirely new sides to our republic.
Trail Tourists Joining in and Communities Coming Together
Something we didn’t expect to see, but couldn’t be happier about, is just how many people from communities are hopping on for individual races even if they didn’t initially register, and are absolutely loving it. We don’t mind at all if you haven’t registered or aren’t the most competitive runner; if you want to run our missions, run them. This is a truly unexpected phenomenon and we couldn’t find a better demonstration of the Fusion spirit if we tried.
Technology At The Forefront
For all our fantastic team’s hard work, there is no doubt that the Fusion Virtual 7 Series wouldn’t have been able to go as well as it is doing if it wasn’t for technology. It has been at the heart of every stage of this process, and continues to allow us to keep the missions going smoothly and competitively.
Signing Up and Keeping Track
You can see exactly how to sign up for this event and track your progress here, but in essence you need to register on RaceRoster before tracking your progress on Strava using a GPS tracking device. In this way, we have been able to keep track of competitors and stay on top of exactly who is taking on the Fusion challenges.
Communication of Results
It isn’t a race unless you know how you have done, and so we have been updating competitors weekly with interim reports and then the month’s final results via email. This has provided Fusionites with regular updates to let them know how they are doing, and who to be targeting to overtake!
Smart Results From Tabular Analytics
What has made these missions really feel like races though, and not just people going out for some runs, has been the smart results from Tabular Analytics. Through smart results, people have been able to see exactly how they are doing compared to everyone else, see their pace, how they are moving through the pack, and a whole host of other details. This has allowed many of our Fusionites to scratch that itch that only truly competing is able to do. Check out this great smart results tutorial to see how you can start competing again today.
How’s It Going So Far?
With these smart results in mind then, we thought it worth taking a quick look at where we are so far, and how the Fusion Virtual 7 Series is shaping up. The top elite athletes and their overall times as at the completion of the fourth mission can be seen below:
|1||Patricia Sorias||4:01:31||Five Star Fitness Factory|
|2||Gabrielle Lyons||4:24:03||Five Star Fitness Factory|
|1||Christopher Mitchell||3:20:17||Club +OAW|
|2||Michael Honore||3:29:18||Club +OAW|
Whatever happens going forward though, and no matter who comes out on top, we are confident that the Virtual 7 series will continue to be a roaring success. We started Fusion Adventure Races to celebrate the human spirit and beauty of nature. In the last 12 months, many of us have gained a new appreciation for the world around us, and have seen more than ever the true fortitude of humanity, and we here at Fusion look forward to seeing a whole lot more in 2021.