A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chair a committee that put together a 5k/10k race benefitting our local Junior League. I learned a lot, functioned on minimal sleep in the weeks leading up to it, and slept like a rock the night of the race from absolute and pure exhaustion. I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way so any of you that may be organizing a race can use what I stumbled through (on endless cups of coffee)!
1. Put your date on the city calendar/FB/event page/spread the word as soon as you have it. If your town is anything like ours, the number of races keeps growing every year and it’s important to advertise and let people know as soon as possible so they can plan to attend! If any vendors are setting up at your race, contact them! Get on their calendars so you can help advertise that they will be there and vice versa.
2. If you are timing your race, start searching for a timing company immediately. Our race happens to fall around a very busy cross-country/fun run/holiday season and of the 5 companies we contacted, only 2 had our date available due to already being booked. That was 8 months in advance. So, make some phone calls.
3. Once you have your race date, file your necessary permits for any space you may be using and the course itself with your local police department. You definitely need all the help you can get keeping your runners safe and meeting with the traffic officers will help ensure a smooth course for all your participants and knowing which direction your runners will be going can iron out issues with traffic flow before the day of the race.
4. Get ALL the volunteers. You will need all hands on deck the day of the race. Some volunteers may cancel or no-show and if they are serving as course volunteers, that can be a bit tricky! Our police department actually covered a few corners just making sure #safetyfirst was the priority so that helped a ton! You may have volunteers that have never been to that area of town, or aren’t familiar with races, so always include a map and a detailed guide for the intersection they will be guiding at and the direction for the runners! Bonus if the volunteers have encouragement signs! It may be someone’s first race or just needing a little extra boost and the volunteers can make all the difference!
5. Don’t forget your random box of everything. You know. The stuff you might need on race day that no one keeps in their cars (except Mary Poppins). Tape, sharpies, 500 more safety pins, hammers, zip ties, trash bags, the list goes on and on. Actually, if you keep these things in your car my first thought is you might be Dexter. Sorry, but it’s true. Either way, designate someone as the “OH NO! we forgot this please run to the closest store!” in emergencies person.
6. Have access to bathrooms. We previously used a place that needed porta-potties and we had to reserve those through the city for race day. This year, we were fortunate enough to have access to local businesses that opened their facilities to our participants! Whatever way works for you. Just make sure there are plenty of bathrooms for everyone.
7. Have an inclement weather plan. I have never (knock on wood) been a runner in a race or helping with a race that had to cancel due to inclement weather. But, it does happen. We crossed our fingers for good weather, and had a downpour an hour before the race and then it was fine. You don’t want to risk having runners on the course during a storm though. So, have a plan.
8. T-shirts. Y’all. People can get so fired up about this topic but let’s make this simple. A lot of time and money go into t-shirt design, getting logos properly showing on shirts, if you have a non-seasonal color in your order it may take extra time, etc. This year, we cutoff guaranteed t-shirts after a certain date and ordered a buffer of extras for each size that was then first come first serve at packet pickup and race day for the registrants that did so after the guaranteed date. I have run a few races that operated this way and it makes the most sense when the race is a fundraiser to minimize the chance of having leftover (already paid for $$) shirts. This also helps to get people registered before the cutoff date to ensure they get a shirt and potentially boost your registrations! WINNING!
9. Be mindful of the field the timing chips are being recorded in. This year, we ended up having to reconcile a few runners that “placed.” These were actually just bibs that had been nearby and traveled around the timing field and weren’t actually attached to a runner. Glove boxes, packet pickup bags, friends carrying bibs for friends that couldn’t make it etc. Keep these things in mind (in between the chaos of the day of the race, of course!) 😀
10. You can’t please everyone. In our case, the run was a fundraiser so many decisions were made to be good stewards of our funds raised and of our budget. Just stay focused on putting on a race that benefits your organization/community and don’t forget to HAVE FUN!!
I hope this helps some of you that may be organizing a race for the first time! If you have questions or need more tips and tricks send me an email and I’ll help how I can!
Thanks for stopping by!