How to plan a running race
Running is becoming increasingly popular with events ranging from family fun runs to multi-day ultras. Many people who enjoy running will consider organising their own race but planning and putting on a race is not a stroll in the park – many runners will have come across badly organised and even dangerous events. A properly organised race is far more than route and a medal.
We have seen all sorts of things go wrong at events:
- Rain turned a car park into a swamp
- Checkpoints stolen
- Marshals send people the wrong way
- Drinking water fails to arrive
- No Wi-Fi for race director’s laptop
- Runners go home mid-race without telling anyone
- Injured marshal
- Drivers ignore closed road
- Dog bite
- Race director’s laptop stolen mid-event
- Lost runners
- Stolen power generator
- Checkpoints running out of supplies
- Medals and t-shirts printed wrong
- Heatstroke, hypothermia, snow, floods, and so on…
Here are some of the things we think a race director should consider:
- Select a location that will provide not just the terrain & distance you require but also has adequate accessibility, availability and facilities.
- Check permissions and regulations and apply for appropriate licenses and permits; this could include landowners, local councils, police & emergency services and the sport’s regulatory body. Don’t forget data protection regulations.
- Don’t just think about the fun things, consider what could go wrong: risk assessments, safety policies, emergency action plans, contingency plans, first aid, emergency access, communications, crowd safety, security, terrorist threats, extreme weather and, of course, insurance.
- And there are the administrative necessities: water, food, toilets, waste, signage, shelter, PA system, timing system, medals, parking and those all-important marshals, whose competence and training can make or break an event. If you are using other companies to provide services you need to check their procedures, insurance, certifications, etc.
- Processing the runners will require a website, booking system, terms & conditions, rules, FAQs, race numbers, on-the-day registration, start line briefing, result recording and issuing of results.
Lastly you need to consider the finances. Even if you are doing this for the love of the sport you need to at least break even! Make sure you do all the sums, consider sponsorship, and make sure your terms and conditions have a clear policy for refunds and cancellations – you can’t afford to refund every entry if extreme weather cancels your event on the day.