Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dear race organizers...get a clue

Whether you've just started or you're a seasoned racer, one of the greatest frustrations is a poorly organized/executed race. So, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts that I had. And, and, and...since I'm planning on organizing a 5k soon, I hope to not repeat these mistakes!

1. Your race has to have a website. Its not that hard and it really only needs to be one page with: when, where, how to get there and the route. A link to register online would be great too but same day registration is fine. Speaking of, there's no need for people to buy morning of with cash or check. There are PLENTY on ipad/iphone apps that allow you to swipe credit cards. Who carries cash anymore anyway?!

2. There is no reason why you can't offer nice tech tees to all those that register. Now, they're as cost effective as the cotton tees but are MUCH nicer. Not to mention it makes your race seem even more professional.

3. Along the same lines, there no reason why you cant offer overall and age group medals. they're not that expensive and once again, make your race seem even more professional

4. The day of the race, please make sure the staff is CLEARLY marked. Wear shirts, hats, badges or tie balloons to your wrists if need be but if people have questions they need to find someone quickly in order to ask. Not to mention, if something goes bad its easier for 1st responder personal to identify YOU. On a side note, you and all your staff need to be pumped up and happy about your event. If you think I dragged my fat broken butt out of bed at 6 am on a Sunday to deal with your grumplestiltskin are SADLY mistaken. Its your job to make me feel happy about being here!

5. At the start/registration/pre-race area, have a map of the course up for review. By map, I do not mean an 8.5x11 piece of paper taped to a table at sign in. I mean a 2ftx4ft picture on an easel that lots of people can see (its an easy print at Kinkos folks, come on)

6. You HAVE to use chipped/timed numbers to track your racers. The "guesstimation" thing of pulling tabs off numbers as runners come through the chute is SO 1995. its relatively cheap and it one less worry for you as an organizer. Not to mention finishing times get posted up that much faster for your runners to see

7.While I love to hear the National anthem at the beginning of every race...its not the ONLY thing you do before the gun goes off. YOU should welcome everyone to the event, let runners know if there are any changes to the course, what to look out for, tell the runners to seed themselves, etc. Its YOUR race, take charge and let us know that someone is IN charge.

8. If the course is going to be twisty-turney, painted arrows on the pavement is not gonna cut it! you need to have people at each turn (and when I mean at each turn I need them to be directing where to go...not just standing there!)

9. While I would love to have time boards up at each mile, at the very least I expect each mile to be marked! I mean really, is that so hard?! While you're at Kinkos for #3 you cant also have mile markers made too?! Then either put them on a stand or on a pole and in a traffic cone at each mile.

10. If you're going to have water stations out on the course, train the people manning them (i.e. don't just have them sit there, have them handing out water) and here's a tip, don't fill the cups completely up. grabbing one while running is like getting hit with a water balloon . AND there is a trick to handing water to some one running by, teach your water station folks how to do it BEFORE race day

11. Once your runners cross the finish, its great to have water, Gatorade and bananas/oranges at the end...but have enough! Trust me, there is nothing a runner hates worse then to hear that your race has "run out of water/gatorade". You don't have to do bottles for everyone. You can use those big Gatorade coolers but make sure you have enough cups. Yes, i have put Gatorade right in my hands to drink like a caveman because a race ran out of cups.

12. When you do post finishing times, could you please NOT put them all on one page with a 4.5pt tiny font? We just got done running a race and smell like butt. if you think i want to nuzzle up to another racer in order to see my times you are once again...sadly mistaken

13. Lastly, interact with your racers and see what they thought about the race. This is the best time to get real time feedback and if this becomes more than a one time event, you want people to see how your implementing and changing. By the way, if you get everyone's email, a quick "thank you for making it a success and hope to see you next year" email goes a long way...

While this isn't comprehensive and I'm sure I've missed things, I think this is kind of the "have to do" list for a race. If you guys have suggestions or other things to go on the list please don't hesitate to share. Like I said, I hope to organize a race soon and I'd love to make it a great event right out the gate!!


  1. This is a great post and I agree with so many of these points. The only thing I would add is that race organizers remind the walkers to start at the BACK!

  2. Excellent point! Yes, the organizers must CLEARLY state that slow runners and walkers should move to the back!!!

  3. If you say you're starting at 8, start at 8. Late registrants who show up at 7:55 should not be rewarded by you pushing back the start time.

  4. I didn't even think of that. Absolutely! If we're all there on time, why penalize us for the people who arent?! THAT's ging on the list.

  5. Great post Dutch...I want to work your 5K when you do it. Wondering what you think about the Clydesdale division that some races have? I know that I love them, as a Clyde myself it gives us big boys a new competition within the race.