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. All races in the UK must be registered with UKA (UK Athletics). This body sets distances by age category for example, as well as other technical rules for each type of race. You will also need licences and possibly 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!


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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