So you want to put on a road race? The resurgence of road running in the last few years of the 20th century may not match the "boom" of the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, but the popularity of well-organized running events continues to grow. Road races are not usually, in and of themselves, terrific methods of making money. However, events can be effective in building camaraderie within companies and clubs, gaining exposure for sponsors, and promoting health-related issues.
Because many of the chapters that follow were written at different times for different purposes, there is some redundancy in the presentation. Because repetition of an idea can be helpful sometimes, I've left all the articles intact. As much as anything they serve as reminders of the myriad number of items that a race director must consider. Not everything will apply to every race. Some approaches may be too rudimentary for your race, others may be more than you want to do at this point in your event's development.
If you are starting from scratch, where do you begin?
Reason for the Race
This may seem obvious, but you should have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish so you can convey it to those . from prospective sponsors to volunteers who may become involved in your event. Here are a few of many possibilities:
Thinking about your theme can involve considerations from the day chosen for the run to the colors used on race entry forms and T-shirts. For example:
Holiday races such as turkey trots on Thanksgiving and resolution runs on New Year'sEve.
You may be able to carry your race theme into the decorations at the finish line (balloons and flags), the food served, the entertainment provided and the celebrities invited to participate. Your theme may carry over into the awards presented and the finishers' results provided. The more cohesive and complementary your approach, the more likely your event will be remembered and run again in subsequent years.
There are other ways to put this--budgets, financial obligations, expenses and revenue--but it all comes down to dollars. How many will you need to put your race, where will you get them, and will you have any left when the event is over? Here are a few sources of funding:
More specifically, this means determining who is going to solicit and take care of sponsors, who will work with local authorities, who will design and measure the course, who will design the entry form and race T-shirts, etc. all the way through who will conduct the finish line, clean up afterwards and send out the race results. Whether the particular job involves one person or dozens, it is important to decide in advance just whose job it is.
Depending on the circumstances, and often the size of the race, promotion of an event may be critical or virtually "unnecessary." The latter, however, is rare and usually an option for those races with great tradition (Boston Marathon) or popularity (New York City Marathon, Bolder Boulder, Peachtree Road Race).
Generally, at least some promotion and/or advertising is essential. There are lots of potential marketing approaches; some are fairly simple, others require more research, effort and expense:
Venue and Date
Perhaps just slightly less important than funding the race are considerations of "where and when." Determining "where" to run the race involves two primary considerations and many collateral concerns:
The "when" involves considerations of holidays; timing of other races; permit requirements for parks or roadways; potential conflicts with major sports teams' schedules and their use of city services such as police; availability of volunteer groups; and, of course, weather.
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