Race Management from a Runner’s Perspective

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When it comes to planning a race, there’s a lot to consider – when to file for permits, how many volunteers are needed, how to advertise – and it’s easy for race directors to get caught up in the laundry list of logistics. Race day is no different: are the timers working? Everything running on schedule? Has anyone gotten hurt?

But take a step back. It’s important for race directors to understand the perspective of their runners; after all, it is their experience that matters most! Let’s dive in to a few things your runners want you to know for smooth race management on the big day!

We don’t know where we’re going.

Sure, you sent us the course map in an email and gave us one in our packet. But for our sake, pretend we never got it. We don’t have photographic memories and nothing is worse than that sneaking feeling that you’re running the wrong way. So mark the course! It doesn’t have to be elaborate; even colored tape on the ground will do the trick. This goes for off the course, too: don’t expect us to know where to register last-minute or line up to start. We expect you to lead us there.

It looks bad when you can’t answer our questions.

And we’re bound to have a lot of them, whether it’s the location of the bathrooms or what time the next wave starts, and we’ll ask the first person we see in a neon VOLUNTEER shirt. Even though you might’ve assigned Julie to only handle packet pick-up, we guarantee someone will ask her about another aspect of the race. So make sure she knows: prep your staff and volunteers to know the course, the schedule of events, the location of registration and medic tents… anything you can think of, we’ll think of, too.

Nothing makes us madder than having to pee.

race-management-chronotrack_2You can probably relate to this. Whether it’s at the movie theater or in a race, nothing is worse than a long line at the bathroom! So make sure you have enough porta-potties. And make sure they are EVERYWHERE! At the start, at the finish, and all along the course. If they’re not, you’ll be sure to hear about it (and so will our friends).

Or being thirsty.

This one kinda goes with the last one, huh? Just like we don’t want to stand in line or have to search for a porta-potty, we don’t want to have to stand in line or search for water, either. Nor do we want to carry our water as we run (we have more important things to think about, like getting up that next hill). So please, have more water stations than you think you need and have more than enough water at each station! This is pretty much race management 101 and it’s easy to see why. For starters, we’re running! And two, if you don’t give us enough water, chances are we’ll end up in your medical tent.

We want to be recognized.

We’re not all going to finish first. But we all signed up and we all showed up, and most of us will finish no matter how long it takes. So give us a little kudos! We’re not saying we deserve a trophy, but there are other ways to offer awards to the rest of us. Try giving an award to the oldest or youngest competitor, the last to cross the finish line, or the best costume. The options are limitless so get creative!

We want our friends to be recognized, too.

Any runner knows a race isn’t as fun without someone cheering you on! Be sure to give our friends and family plenty of space to watch from along the course and designate a post-race meeting spot; we want to be able to find our supporters as soon as we’re done running. Brownie points if you give us more activities that we can enjoy together! Think food, games, and photographs.

Put yourself in our shoes.

This is probably the #1 takeaway for race management! At every turn, ask yourself: WWMRD (What Would My Racers Do)? Will we be frustrated? Confused? Elated? All rushing to the same place at once? It sounds simple, but the impact is huge. Give us a good race, and we’ll be good right back! We’ll race again next year and tell our friends. Forget about us, and we’ll spread the word.

For more race management tips, contact ChronoTrack!