Good practices to plan a running race

Good practices to plan a running race

Races have gained in popularity in the UK and elsewhere, and participants are numerous whether they are running enthusiasts, competitors or amateurs, running with their family, as part of a team or alone. Here are some examples of races: 5K, 20K, cross-country or road race, in support of a good cause or to challenge oneself. You have run several kilometres as a participant and enthusiast and you are thinking of organising your own race in 2019?

Like any other event, it requires planning, foresight and teamwork. Here are some tips to help you out!

The type of race

What type of race would you like to organise? There are many different kinds — a marathon is not aimed at the same audience as a cross-country race in the forest or an obstacle course for instance. The sport is the same but the atmosphere, the participants, the location, etc. will be very different. Once you have an idea in mind, you will know how to get in touch with future participants, showcase the specifics of your race and understand what needs to be done in terms of planning, whether it is human resources, licences and permits or racecourse map.

The compulsory steps

The idea of your race can come from a location or another element, you then have to validate some steps to formally organise a sports event in connection with the chosen location and several other parameters.

The important thing is that your running event is compliant with local regulations. You will possibly need licenses and grants, these are tasks to prepare well before your event. Your race will take place on a public road? Apply for permission from the local council.

Do not forget insurance, check that you have liability insurance as an event organiser to cover possible damage to the location or property or injuries to people.

Safety is critical. Depending on the number of runners, it is up to you to provide first aid cover. We would suggest that you get in touch with first aid organisations (such as St John Ambulance or the Red Cross), they will know how to support you. Then, it is very important to have a good team of volunteers and marshals on the race course to show the way to the runners at crossroads, dangerous places, or any stage where the runner may need to be guided and informed.

These safety and insurance elements are essential to obtain your licence. These are elements to prepare early on and to present with your application.

Participant registration

Once you have your licence, all you need is runners! Set up a platform to register participants. Let’s list the key elements of an online registration platform.

The form

It is important to have a complete form to collect all the necessary information for your participant’s shirt and number and to improve knowledge about your customers: where do they come from, what other races did they participate in, how did they hear about your race, … If your event requires certificates it is the perfect step to ask your participant to upload a document: medical certificate, a licence.

Rate Management

Take advantage of a feature that allows you to offer several prices, organise your departure in waves, improve the flow of runners on the day by offering to choose their departure at registration (or indicate their target time to be allocated a start time). This will also allow you to make different offers, to differentiate age groups, or to implement progressive rates depending on target times or quotas (i.e. a rate will be available when the quota of another is full). You can, therefore, manage your start times and see the demand and demographics of the participants in order to adjust your organisation as well.

By classifying your rates and creating categories, your registration module will be clear and understandable for your participants.

If you have goody bags and T-shirts to offer or sell, start offering them as early as registration. With a cross-selling feature, your runners can pre-order their T-shirts, get a cancellation option or purchase various services for the day of the race, the possibilities are endless. These little bonuses will improve the user experience.

The lists of participants

The benefit of an online registration platform is to access your list of registered participants with one click. It must be easily exported and accessed at a glance to start your race and prepare the timer! It is also common to share it with participants once registered.

Communicate about the event

Once your registration platform is ready, you need to attract runners. To increase awareness of your race, think about exposure on social media, running clubs and the local government of the place you organise your event. Make use of all free sports events calendars to promote your event. If you already know a runners’ club, sports club or society, an emailing campaign can be a good way to promote your event, to keep people informed about the day the registrations will open, the number of remaining places.

Setting up partnerships can also help you. You can partner with a media outlet to cover the event, a local company, local governments or sports clubs, anyone who can share information with runners.

Welcoming the runners on the day

As previously mentioned, it is important to ensure safety on-site with the presence of first aid teams, water fountains, signage, to inform on the race-course, remind the runners the good gestures to adopt before, during and after the race.

Welcoming the runners is an organisation in itself: you have to get your number, find a place to warm up, hydrate, feed, join the right starting group, …

Facilitate access control using your registration platform. On it, you have access to all the relevant information, and the ticket sent to the participant becomes the tool to pick up your number. If you use a scanning device or a mobile app, you can scan the tickets and have access to all the necessary information to find in seconds the associated number, but also follow the flow of people in real time and thus gauge the need for more on-site volunteers, for example.

To provide a good experience, do not hesitate to offer a space to prepare for the race with refreshments, food, a chill-out area, … On the course or at the start, music can help motivate the troops. It is your role to provide the runners and their supporters with the best racing experience! For example, a place to store their personal belongings and find them easily at the end of the race, medals at the end to congratulate everyone.

At the end of the race, remember to inform all the runners of their results, do a quick review of the event with the key figures and thank them for coming and for their efforts!

Review

Your race went well? It is time to take stock, to prepare for the next edition. It is essential to take the time to review your event: what was the feedback from participants, partners, your teams, what are the reviews like, … Using your online registration platform, you will be able to know the number of participants, their on-site presence, profiles and the profitability of your event.

Once you have retrieved all the participant information, get in touch to give them information on the next race, share photos and highlights of past editions. You also have several other opportunities to communicate: Announcing the date, announcing the location, when registrations open, the different rates offered, the novelties of the edition, …

To organise your run, it is therefore important to list the various tasks — those you should manage first such as requests for licences and permissions and the ones you can do at the end such as fine-tuning the participant experience. Do not hesitate to inquire with those who have already organised similar events, to see how running events are organised around you, what you remember as a participant, both the good ideas to borrow, the mistakes to avoid and the areas to improve upon!

 

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