UPDATED: Race Directors: Some Helpful Tips!


Saturday, September 23rd Update:  This post was written back in June of this year, but I am making some modifications to it after today’s race.

Another Saturday, another race. While some races are quite organized, others have room for improvement. After participating in over 25 races in 12 months and watching at least 15 others while my hubby ran, I have a few suggestions.

Signs, Signs, Signs

You cannot have too many signs/instructions at an event. Where to park? Where is registration? Where are the bathrooms/port-a-potties? Where is the start line? Once you have everything in place, walk it as if you had never been there. What would you need to see?

UPDATE:  This is extremely important for events where parking is on one side of the building and registration is on the other.   Either put signs up or have volunteers pointing out the way.  Registration is a key area of racing. Make sure the start area is well identified. Don’t assume people just know.

If I don’t know something, who do I ask?

While it is not economical to have volunteers in the same shirt at all races, they need to be identified SOMEHOW. Even just the “Hello My Name Is” badge would help. And volunteers should know who to ask if they dont know the answer.

UPDATE:  In my opinion, volunteers should know where the start line is and where a map of the course can be found (at the very minimum).  If you have two distances (5K and a 2 mile), note those on the map. If you volunteer at a race – BE FRIENDLY and SMILE. I know you aren’t being paid (I volunteer at races), but have fun, enjoy yourself, and be helpful.

Where do I run?

Races with the same route year after year need to remember that there are always new racers. Mark the route or have volunteers along the route.

UPDATE:  If there is a turnoff for a shorter distance, make sure those volunteers know to tell runners/walkers to turn.  This happened to me today.  Signed up for a 2 mile walk.  Wound up doing 2.9 because the volunteers kept telling us to keep going.  While yes, I can walk a 5K without an issue, this was a problem for others.  Also, know that not everyone participating in the race lives in that area of the city or even in that city at all.  Giving street names often doesn’t mean much to the participants.

Water is a must in the heat

You should always let participants know ahead of time if there are water stops or not. If there are not, they may want to take their own. For the water provided at the end of the race – having it as close to the finish line as possible really helps the runners – especially in this heat.

Close to my heart: WALKERS

While I often walk the 5Ks, sometimes I choose to do the 1 mile or 2 mile walk that is offered. Sometimes they call this a “fun walk”. 99% of the time, I am paying as much as the 5K participants. As such, I expect the walk to be as organized as the run. I often feel the walkers get the shaft. If the registration form says walk starts 5 minutes after the runners – DON’T FORGET to start the walkers. Mark the 1 mile course just as you would the other course. Make sure the volunteers along the course know which way the walkers should go. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine – especially when I have paid the same amount as the 5K participants. If you don’t have the volunteers necessary to often multiple events, don’t.

UPDATE:  See note above under “Where do I run?”.

In closing, I have really enjoyed all the races we have done. It is great to get out there and get some exercise and support fabulous causes. And I am getting quite the collection of t-shirts. 🙂

I know there are more details to putting on a race than I can even imagine. I just wanted to throw out a few suggestions that I feel could be helpful.

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