Jelle’s Marble Runs: The New Age of Sports in 2020

With major sports leagues on pause due to COVID-19, you might be wondering how to get through this social distancing thing without your favourite teams up to bat or kicking off. Last year we saw the Raptors win the NBA Championship and Bianca Andreescu defeat Serena Williams to win the US Open, among many other memorable moments in Canadian sports. So how do we fill the void? 

Sports have proven themselves to inspire, to distract from harder times and most importantly to bring people together. They create traditions where friends and family gather to celebrate in their favourite teams. With social distancing in effect, sports can’t exactly happen so a new sport has become a placeholder for many people and it’s safe from spreading COVID-19 because it doesn’t involve people at all. It involves marbles of all things and it’s all on Youtube! It’s called Jelle’s Marble Runs and it’s a new way to race. 

The race is set up like so: several marbles of different colours represent different racers. The first event is a qualifying race where individual marbles race on their own to get the shortest time. Whichever top 12 qualify will go onto the major event, the Marbula 1 race! When the race is about to start, they rest at the starting line in their qualifying spots and then the barricades come down. It’s time to race! After a marble finishes a lap, it goes onto an escalator of sorts made from what looks like K’Nex and is launched for the next lap. They race for five and a half minutes plus one lap.  

The event has many of the characteristics that sports lovers would be missing these days, from uptothesecond commentating to the sounds of the “crowd” of marbles cheering. They even have the list of the “racers” updating in the top corner as they change places in real time. By the way, the racers all have fun and fitting names. One of them is blue, red and yellow and it’s called Primary while Snowball is completely white. The most hilarious part of this is the Driver Cam where they show a first-person view of the marble, which is just a spinning clip of the marble racing. 

The devil is in the details though! Jelle’s Marble Runs have corporate sponsors lining the racetrack, audience members in the form of marbles in the stands and even trophies and celebratory champagne on the winner’s podium at the end of the race 

It’s more than just a race! If you have little ones you want to get into the game, some of the videos even have mini-games like “Where’s Roldo?” which involves locating a specific marble during the race. Others include Rube Goldberg machines where marbles will go through different obstacles, hit dominos and so on to end up in a specific spot.  

This month Jelle’s Marble Runs announced they needed sponsorship for their 2020 Marble League, so “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” decided to step up to the starting line and sponsor sixteen events beginning in June! You can watch them here. 

What have been your sit ins for sports during social distancing? Comment below!  

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