In college I had a professor who lectured that "Output = Input + Garbage." Although he was speaking about the efficiency of an electric motor, he very well could have been referring to the scoring of a road race. One thing I have come to realize over the years is that "Race Results = Registration + Garbage."
There is a direct correlation between your registration and the accuracy of your results. A poorly run registration will often lead to a poor set of results. However by following a few simple suggestions, you can avoid the pitfalls of inaccurate results by running an organized registration. Here are a few simple suggestions:
1. Offer a way to sign up online
A cumbersome registration process can turn runners away. As a race director, it's your job to make it easy for potential attendees to sign up. With online race registration, runners can sign up 24/7 with a few clicks. It's easier for your competitors and saves you tons of time. Learn more about race registration software.
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2. Provide an easy to fill in race application on race day.
On race day competitors are thinking about competing and not paperwork, so it is important to make this process simple. An entry form that is well designed will improve the registration process. Design a simple one-page entry form for race day entries. Use large blocks instead of straight lines. Even the most hurried participant is forced to print, thus saving valuable time during data entry and reducing the need for name spelling corrections after the race is over.
Instruct entrants to "Please Print Legibly." It is also a good idea to add, "Age and gender must be supplied to be eligible for age group awards". Print the race day applications on white paper. Avoid using colored paper; particularly gray paper if you plan on supplying pencils to fill them in. Gray (pencil) on gray (paper) is virtually impossible to read.
Finally instruct your registration volunteers to read back the entrants name to them. If the registration personal can read the form then it is likely the data entry personal can also read it.
3. Make sure you have a sufficient number of race bibs and safety pins.
When it comes to ordering race bibs and safety pins, it is better to error on the side of too many than not enough. How many times have you been at an event where the organizers are handing out make shift numbers because not enough bibs were ordered? Also make sure to order enough safety pins to put the numbers on.
4. Do not double assign bib numbers.
This is a common problem. It sometimes occurs when two different people handle pre and post registration. Typically what happens is the person handling pre-registration does not instruct to the person handling post-registration where to begin assigning bib numbers for race day applicants. If for example pre-registration had assigned bib numbers that ended at 1000 then post-registration begins at 990 there is an overlap of about 10 numbers. On the surface this may not seem like such a big deal, however in the mad rush of race day registration the problem is amplified.
5. Instruct competitors to wear their numbers on the front.
The reason runners need to wear their numbers on the front is so that they can be recorded easily at the finish. It has always amazed me that someone would take the trouble to pin a race number on their back. It is not an easy task, you have to either remove your garment to attach it or have someone assist you. Whenever I see someone wearing their number on the back I asked them why they put it on the back instead of the front. After many years of asking this question a young lady gave me a logical answer. She said, "I put it on my back because that is where baseball players wear their numbers."
6. Work on your people flow.
Organize your post registration similar to how a bank handles their customers. Use one line (or chute) with multiple tellers (registration personal) serving the next available customer (race entrant). This will help eliminate much of the confusion that is associated with multiple lines.
7. Label your numbers (mom, dad, daughter & son).
It is not uncommon for an entire family to sign up for an event. A problem that often occurs is one family member will pick up the numbers and hand them to the other family members. If the correct number is not handed to the right person this can cause problems. The next thing you know mom is being announced as the overall women's winner because dad was wearing her number. Putting individual names on the race numbers can help prevent this from happening.