Choose an Event
There are so many races to choose from: 5K, 10K, team relays, mud runs, trail runs, or theme-based races. The list goes on. For your first race, you want to start small.
Even if you have your heart set on organizing a marathon, you may want to first have a go with a shorter distance to feel your way.
“If you want to keep it simple, start out with a short race, like a 5K,” said Dave Camire, senior editor at CoolRunning.com. Every race requires tons of legwork from those organizing the event; the more complicated the course, the more planning required.
Choose a Location
Picking a good venue can make or break your event’s success. “If you’re going to have a race in a sorry part of town as opposed to the beach, you won’t get as many participants,” said Camire. “People flock to a good venue.”
No matter how unique you think your event may be, if it’s tough to reach, people won’t register. Rachel Hiner, executive director of Sunstrides, a race management company in San Diego, Calif., organized a pumpkin patch run last year in Lakeside, Calif. The event was unique—a 5K in a pumpkin patch with music, food and free pumpkins for kids—so a large number of participants were expected. “We just couldn’t get people out there.
The feedback was that people couldn’t make it out to Lakeside because of the far drive, lack of public transportation, etc.,” said Hiner. “There are so many races…that if you don’t make your event accessible and stand out, you’ve got a fat chance getting people there.”
Hiner suggested keeping a lookout for locations where races already draw large numbers of participants. “For your first race, try using a course or area from a different race that is already successful, because you know that you can get people to that location.”
Choose a Date
Scheduling your race is one of the most important things you’ll do as a race director. Choose a date that makes sense for the location you’ve selected. You want to take into account the season of when participants will want to be racing, holiday schedules and competition—especially for your first race.
“Pick a date where you don’t have a lot of competition,” said Camire. “For example, if you choose Oct. 4 in New England, you’re up against a huge number of races.”
Another important factor to keep in mind is your timeline. If your goal is to put together a successful race with hundreds of people, you need time to organize the event.
“Give yourself enough time to do it right,” said Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon. “Typically for me, from conceptualization to execution, it should be a year. Not just for your planning purposes, but you need to get the event out to the general public.”
Choose a Race Software
Once you pick the length, location and date, it’s time to find a tool to manage everything from online race registration to reporting. Race software will be a big time saver for you and your participants.
Ready to organize your first 5K? Download the complete guide.
Now that you know how to choose your event, location and date, it's time to learn how to>> Set Goals, Get Permission, Plan Logistics.