Big River RM Keeps Season Alive With Gateway Virtual Series

With the cancelation of the 2020 track season, coaches and athletes around the state and country are finding creative ways to continue to stay in shape and even race "virtually" while performing proper social distancing practices.

MileSplit has established their Virtual Classic, which allows student-athletes and coaches to record marks on their own and submit them in competitions with others across the country. Another great way for student-athletes to stay active and involved is the recently announced Big River Race Management Gateway Virtual Track Series (GVTS).

On Monday, May 4th, the GVTS kicks off with its first unique competition of the month. 

According to Big River Race Management CEO Matt Helbig:

"The GVTS is a four week competition featuring four 1-week long virtual track meets. Each week the GVTS will have a different twist to scoring giving your athletes and team new and fun ways to compete. Upon signing up, athletes will select their team and select up to 3 events to compete in. MSHSAA has made it clear no athletes will be eligible to compete under their high school names due to school still being in session. However they have approved athletes to compete under their hometown and school mascot (Example: Rockwood Summit = Fenton Falcons). Our registration platform has every high school in Missouri's hometown and mascot preloaded to ensure your athletes select the correct team to compete under. This will ensure your team can all compete "together" as a team against other high school teams across the state."

Athletes will be able to submit their marks throughout the week in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m, and 3200m runs. Helbig acknowledged the desire to include hurdle and field events, but noted that access to proper equipment and facilities is most likely limited at this time making such inclusion difficult. 

Whereas track meets typically follow a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the GVTS scoring system allows more athletes and teams to score during the competition by providing a 20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system.  

For the first week, athletes will compete in the Gateway Varsity, JV, and Freshman Invitational in which athletes will be scored in three different divisions. Athletes can choose which their division, but, of course, only current Class of 2023 freshmen are allowed in the freshman division. Marks can be recorded throughout the week and submitted until 12:00 p.m. on Sunday with final results posted online Monday. 

In order to submit a mark, athletes will need post a picture or video to @BigRiverRacing on Twitter with the hashtag #GVTS. The mark will not be valid without a picture or video. 

Safety is a major concern during the GVTS. According to Helbig: 

Safety is our number one priority and we will ask for your help to stress this to your athletes. Athletes are expected to compete ALONE. They must complete their marks without teammates and without competitors. Athletes must follow all local, state, and government social distancing rules, along with those set forth by the CDC. When out running and competing athletes must make sure to always keep at least 6 feet between themselves and all other people.We expect the athletes to follow all school district policies regarding track and facility usage. If their high school track is closed, IT IS CLOSED. The GVTS has a zero tolerance policy for any athletes that violate any of these policies. Any violation will result in an immediate disqualification from both the meet and the rest of the series.
Throughout the rest of the month, the GVTS will be introducing unique competitions. The second week, which takes place from May 11th through May 17th, pits the eastern part of the state versus the western part of the state according to where they lie in relation to Highway 63. 

Week 2 will have varsity and JV divisions with scoring taking place only in Team East (red) and Team West (blue). And, being that Highway 63 can split some major cities down the middle, some schools may be competing against their crosstown rival! Marks will be accepted until Sunday May 17th at 12 p.m. and posted the following Monday. 

Week 3 pits the four graduation classes against each other. Seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen will all be scored regardless of hometown team and scored against each other. This week spans May 18th through the 24th and results will be posted on the 25th. 

"This meet is dedicated to all Seniors who will not get the complete their last season. We salute you Seniors!" Helbig noted. 

The final week is dubbed the "Unofficial Missouri State Championships." From May 25th to May 31st, athletes can post their best marks via twitter. All athletes are eligible to compete, but the top 2 marks from each team will count toward the scoring. The competition will also take place within the 5 classifications. 

You can register for the entire series or just one series at a time, as well as learn more information about cost and the series in general here

To provide transparency, Helbig notes that three local small businesses will benefit from this event. Big River Race Management, a fixture in the St. Louis running community over the past 13 years, Regal Midwest Logowear, and All-Star Trophy are all small businesses in the area supported by this event. 

"All of these groups have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and this meet will certainly help them through this time of great need and uncertainty," Helbig said.

Any further questions can be submitted on the registration site

Best of luck to all of the GVTS athletes and remember to stay safe while competing!