So just because I cannot run a lot right now doesn’t mean I don’t love running. One of the ways I stay close to the sport is to coordinate a charity 5K and 10K for an event here in St. Louis called Celebrate Fitness. This was the 5th year for the run and I’ve learned a lot about coordinating these types of things so I thought I’d put together a little “How To” just in case you’ve ever thought about getting into the world of coordinating a race. The project manager in me loves lists so hopefully you’ll benefit from it. 🙂
Before I get into the mechanics of organizing something like this, let me just say that it can be time consuming, and challenging at times but if you’re doing it for the right reasons, just like any challenge, you’ll find yourself pushing through.
I know this post might not have a huge readership but I’ve been asked about it a lot and anything I can do to help others that want to help great causes, is all good. So bookmark it, pin it for later use or send to others who might be interested. I just wanted to get it documented.
Step 1: What is the goal?
The first step in coordinating a race is being able to answer these five questions:
- Why do I want to organize a race? Is it to support a charity? If so, which one? Do you have their buy in and support?
- When do I want the race to happen? Are there other races going on then?
- Where do I want the race to happen? Do I need to do anything special to have the race there? Do I have to get someone’s permission to hold the race?
- Who is the race for? Is it a competitive run? Is it a walk? Is it a walk/run?
- How far, what distance do I want the race to be? 5K? 10K? 1Mile?
Answering these five questions help you form the basis to rest of your planning activities.
For my race, we answered these questions the first year, and each year afterwards, we the organizing committee, the charity beneficiary and I revisit the answers are still the same. Luckily, they have been the same
Step 2: Get Planning
Once those are answered, it is time for the real planning to begin. What I’ve done is build out a checklist of activities and the approximate time frame the need to be done in. Races can take a lot of time to plan so make sure you give yourself plenty of lead-time. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, you’ll want to add to it but it’s a good start.
We start planning for our event in March in late September/early October but that is because we have many of the answers to the questions above. If you are brand new, assume you will need more time (6 months at least).
The list linked below is the basic list I use to get my details.
Here are some of my notes:
To Hire or not to Hire a Race Mgmt Company: Hiring a professional race timing company: This isn’t a must but I HIGHLY recommend hiring a company that specializes in timing. Especially if you’re planning for the race to have any competitive component. Race timing can be very complicated and confusion.
Establishing a Race Route: I would not do this until after you have determined if you are hiring a race mgmt company. Often times they can help you lay out the route. It can be difficult depending on where you’re trying to do your race, especially if the route crosses into multiple municipalities. Each one of them could require different permits, lead-time, etc.
What is Race Insurance: Having adequate liability insurance on a race is an ABSOLUTE! You can get it through the USATF if you apply to have the race be sanctioned or through other groups like Road Runners of America. Runner’s World has a good article on this topic. See Post here. http://www.runnersworld.com/race-directors/insurance
Day of Events: The day of the event can be stressful, pre-planning can really help make you feel more at ease. Be prepared for the morning before the event to feel a little crazed but it gets better.
Ok, I know there is a TON more but that is a good place to start. IF you are in a situation to organize a race and have additional questions, do not be afraid to reach out. I’ll answer what I can.
One final note, for me doing a race like this is strictly a volunteer thing. I don’t make any money on this nor would I want to. This race is important to me and so is fighting cancer.
Do you do any event coordination? What advice would you give?