Interview with Monika Fiedler on the first Challenge Women Virtual Run
The Fiedler Concepts team had to cancel the event at the beginning of April with a heavy heart. After the official cancellation of the Challenge Women Roth Run, the team around Monika Fiedler did not let their heads hang low, but presented a concept for the implementation of a virtual run after only 14 days, which was then prepared and implemented over the next 12 weeks with a lot of heart and soul. With the motto "BE A PART" the 1st Challenge Women Virtual Run powered by GARMIN was launched on Saturday July 4th. The special thing about it - an event with almost 1,800 female athletes who participated worldwide to be part of the Challenge Women Family again and to take part on the 5km course together virtually.
We, the mika:timing team, have been supporting the Fiedler Concepts team since the end of March and have worked intensively together during the preparations. In the lead up to the event we were able to conduct the following interview with Monika Fiedler, Managing Director and owner of Fiedler Concepts:
mika:timing: "Since 2013 you have established the Challenge Women Run with a lot of passion and attention to detail within the framework of the Challenge Roth. An event that has become more and more popular and with almost 2,000 participants the last event was fully booked. How did you perceive the Corona developments and what was the phase or rather the decision of cancellation like for you?”
Monika Fiedler: "During the first weeks in March and April we were of course all very cautious and a little bit in "shock" - but we quickly guessed that a big event this summer would only be possible under very difficult conditions. In addition, as the "little sister" of the DATEV Challenge Roth, we are connected to it and we know about the months of preparation time necessary. When the Walchshöfer family proactively made the decision, we knew immediately that this also meant a cancellation for our Challenge Women Run & Walk."
mika:timing: "The Corona crisis has hit the sports industry with all its organisers and service providers hard. How did you motivate your team to continue and develop new ideas in this exceptional and for everyone difficult time?”
Monika Fiedler: "We are a small, fine team of 4 full-time employees and a pool of freelancers. I think we have motivated each other and tried to build up each other - simply with the hope that especially events that are realized with a lot of love for detail will have a future and maybe even become more important. After all, we don't just organize the run, but many multi-day events and camp formats. Of course, the financial losses are enormous, especially because we also make a living from contract business - that is, we advise many companies in the sports industry on the topic of women as a target group, implement sales conferences - all this has been put on ice.”
mika:timing: "How did you get the idea to turn the Challenge Women Roth into a virtual run?”
Monika Fiedler: "The idea is of course not new and not invented by us - but we have been thinking about how we can expand and refine the concept of a virtual run in such a way that we can realize the personal touch that is always very important to us at all our events. That was actually the biggest challenge in creating this."
mika:timing: "What do you imagine a virtual event to be? What must it offer to the participants?"
Monika Fiedler: "If I am honest, I find that many organizers "just switch to virtual events" - but do not really put much thought and imagination into the topic: how can I make a virtual event "EXPERIENCABLE". In other words, how can I create a sense of community, personally reach out to the target group and connect with them.”
mika:timing: "Many organisers talk about virtual events. Which way of realization did you think of for the Challenge Women Virtual Run?"
Monika Fiedler: " It was clear to us from the very beginning that we wanted to offer different packages, where we could give the women something "real" - a starter kit, so to speak. And also that we will try to implement a connecting element, namely a shirt. All things that require a lot of logistical effort, but adds to the charm - especially in the female target group. And also that we absolutely wanted a timing system with which we could get "real" data, i.e. not have the participants run several times and then send us their best time as a screenshot. I simply believe that, for all the fun and enjoyment, it's also about competition and comparability - and that this should be maintained. Which we have achieved with the mika:timing app.
What is also very important to me: the virtual race is not a temporary substitute for our real event, but in the medium and long term it should also offer the possibility of international races, especially when the number of participants is limited. Why shouldn't women from Australia and Africa also be able to participate in the Challenge Women 2021 via the app next year?”
mika:timing: "What were your main requirements for you and your partners?"
Monika Fiedler: "The biggest challenge is the incredible flow of communication with participants on all social channels - it really overwhelms you in the beginning and doesn't ebb away during the weeks of preparation. With sponsors and partners the special thing was that we felt strong differences in their own online presence and willingness - here we did a lot of educational work and also support, especially with the Online Goody Bag. But the effort was worth it in any case and many partners see the great effort behind it all."
mika:timing: "Why did you choose mika:timing as your service provider?"
Monika Fiedler: "We have been working together with you for years in a very professional manner and at eye level. This is about loyalty and also about the fact that you have the kind of app on offer that we were looking for."
mika:timing: "How is the response from the participants to your virtual run?"
Monika Fiedler: "Very very good - we have 1,550 registrations as of today. Of course this is connected with an unbelievable number of inquiries - but we simply have to offer this service."
mika:timing: "Why should preferably all participants use the mika:timing tracking & event app?"
Monika Fiedler: "We are of the opinion that it enables a fair uniform measurement and in our opinion it should not be a problem to run 5km with a mobile phone. Of course, there were questions as to why they could not upload their own data. But we have been very consistent and stringent about this."
mika:timing: "How was the preparation for this new format in general for you?"
Monika Fiedler: "Very time intensive, many learning curves but also many beautiful creative moments - simply because we were able to turn an incredibly positive wheel in the areas of social, viral communication, brand ambassadors and media partnerships. We are already looking forward to the After-Race-Clipping Report, though it will certainly take a few days."
mika:timing: "You have set a time window of 24 hours for the virtual run with a great supporting programme. What is especially important to you there?"
Monika Fiedler: "We want to enable women all over the world to run with us. So we also have to take into account the different time zones. And also take into account women's habits, whether they prefer to run in the morning or evening or during the day."
mika:timing: "Who could you get as a supporter for the Challenge Women Virtual Run?"
Monika Fiedler: "We were actually able to win all our partners from the Challenge Women race for the Virtual Run in some way. The main partner is GARMIN - which we are very grateful for. And also brands like Medicom, New Balance and Ultrasun - who supported us for example with the costs for starter kits or postage (which is huge!). The Sparkasse Mittelfranken-Süd has once again given our charity organisation ZONTA a generous cheque, and many regional partners are also presenting themselves within the online Goody Bag, with award ceremony prizes or even their presence in Roth."
mika:timing: "Where will you be personally at the race weekend?"
Monika Fiedler: "In Roth - our heart simply beats too much for the Walchshöfer family and everything that makes up the flair."
mika:timing: "Will you be starting yourself?"
Monika Fiedler: "Yes, but without timekeeping - but as a "racing reporter" together with my project manager Julia Moll and our colleague Steffi Spies. We also have a few surprises in store ...but more will not be revealed yet! :-)“