Day of Your Race

It's the big day. You're the race director, and you're nervous. How can you make sure the day goes smoothly? "Be the first one to show up. I always like to be the first person at the venue because I know more than anyone what is going on," noted McGillivray.

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"I don't want people to park or set up where they're not supposed to."

In an effort to get ahead of the game, McGillivray recommends doing everything you can to make sure your event starts on time. "I tell all my employees and volunteers: pretend like the event is going to happen earlier than it's scheduled. Months and months out, I tell people, let's pretend the race happens two weeks earlier than it actually does. It's a little bit of a trick."

He continues, "What time does race start? Well it starts at 8, but let's pretend it starts at 7. I'd rather have a buffer zone of time, so that we can really head towards the countdown and there are no surprises."

So you plan and plan. You have all your water stations manned, signs posted, participants registered, T-shirts ordered. You are the most organized race director on the planet. You still need to be prepared for anything.

"When you're planning a race, you pretty much have total control of how you're planning it. Once the gun fires, it has a life of its own," said McGillivray. "Now it's in the hands of volunteers–lets say 1,000 volunteers you may have never met before. They're handing out water and food and handing out times at the finish–they're doing all the difficult duties necessary and executing the plan that you produced."

"And most of the time it goes well. Sometimes people don't show up where and when they're supposed to. You could hire a water company to deliver water and the delivery guy oversleeps and doesn't show up. Or the buses are late. There's a trickle down effect. Come race day, you're depending on so many other people. The hope is that you've educated them well enough."

And then there's the weather. You can't control whether your race day will be sunny or full of thunderstorms. You should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

"When you're putting on a road race, you don't have a controlled environment," said McGillivray. "Could be cold. Could be hot. Could be windy. Could be rainy. Could be beautiful. And you're sending people off down city roads and into communities and through bus districts. You can't personally control it all, and you don't know whether someone's going to pull their car out of the driveway or whether some little kid will run out in the middle of the race. Do the best you can to control the course and what goes on out there as best as possible."

And what if something goes wrong?

"Think of a plan B and a plan C," recommends McGillivray. "What happens if there's an emergency on the course? A fire? What do you do? You don't have to drive yourself crazy thinking of every possible scenario. But it's worth it to give it some thought. People are going to turn to you–the race director–and ask. 'What do we do?' And you have to have an answer."

There are a million things that will swim through your mind before and after the gun goes off. If you use that same analogy as when you were promoting the race and think about the event like it was a party, you can break it down into three parts:

  • The Pre-race--This is where you welcome people to the event. Show them where the bathroom is, give them their bib numbers and party favors.
  • Main event--This is the race itself. Sure there are some technical things to consider in the race itself, but once those details are squared away, you just have a party to plan.
  • Post-event--Once your participants finish with the race, they want to party. The post-race is the party.

"You're basically putting on a party, with an event in the middle of it," said Camire. So the most important thing to remember—at both parties and road races—is to have fun. (Rule No. 3)

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Now that you know how to prepare for race day, it's time to understand what to expect>> After the Event

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