Set Goals, Get Permission, Plan the Logistics

Set Goals

One of the most important things to think about when organizing a race is setting realistic goals. Your first race may not have 10,000 participants, but maybe only 25 of your friends. Both types of races have their advantages, as long as expectations have been set appropriately.

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"Don't think you're going to be the boss of the marathon at your first go," noted Camire. "If you set a goal of 25,000 and get 25 people, you'll be disappointed. If you set a goal of 25 people and get 25 people, you've met your goal. "

How do you determine which expectations are reasonable?

"You need to determine resources to make this thing happen. If you have a whole committee of people, a major company or major cause behind you, then significant expectations might be reasonable," McGillivray said. "If you're doing it by yourself, your expectations need to be reasonable. It's always better to be conservative with your goals so you can exceed expectations and maybe make them higher the next year."

All you really need is two people to compete. Two people and it's a race. You're up and running.

If you can get 200 people to your first event, that's a pretty good goal. But remember, a race is a race. "All you really need is two people to compete. Two people and it's a race. You're up and running," said Camire.

Get Permission

"If you don't have permission, you can't do your event," said McGillivray. "Once you decide where you want to conduct the event, you have to go to the permitting authorities and get permission. You don't want to commit to an event, advertise and promote, until permission is in place."

Hiner learned the hard way. Sunstrides was co-organizing an event with another organization that was responsible for getting the permit when, two months before the event, she was informed by the city that they had no awareness of the event. By this time, it was too late to get approval for that date so they rescheduled the date and tried to rush the permit through. "We delayed promotions until too close to the event and eventually had to cancel. It was a huge waste of time and energy that we wouldn't have wasted if I had a permit in my hands from the get-go."

Safety First

"The first important lesson I learned about racing over the years, is to make sure no one dies," chuckled Camire. "Clean and simple. Safety is No. 1."

Here are a few pointers to make sure you're prepared to keep everyone at your event safe and sound:

  • Make sure there is plenty of water on the course
  • Make sure traffic control is present so no one gets hit by a vehicle
  • Use volunteers and make signs to make sure people stay on correct course
  • Make sure you have medical presence

"You probably want to have an ambulance or EMT present. But it may be as simple as educating your volunteers to not hesitate to call 911 immediately in the event of an emergency," Camire said. "The point is: be prepared for everything. If everyone makes it to the finish line safely, it's a successful event. Safety is the most important thing."

Plan the Logistics

There are lots of odds and ends associated with a race besides the actual race. Here's a list things first-time race directors might forget to have on their to-do lists:

  • Race Director Software
  • Race-day checklist
  • Accurately marked course
  • Accurately measured course
  • Timing
  • Visible clocks along the course
  • Well-run registration to ensure all participants registered properly
  • Awards / Ceremony
  • Results
  • Medical presence
  • Water stops
  • Permits
  • Post-race music and food
  • Goodie bags / T-shirts

Now that you understand how to set goals, get permission, and plan your event, make sure you have your finances in order>> Build a Budget, Find Sponsors, Promote Your Race


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