The Right Event for your Portfolio
There are so many races to choose from out there, so if you're organising a new race, you want to make it special.
There are so many races to choose from out there, runners can indulge in a catalogue of 5Ks, 10Ks, team relays, mud runs, trail runs, or theme-based races. The list goes on. So if you’re organising a new race, you want to make it special.
You might be a seasoned athlete, or ex Ironman racer, but if you haven’t organised a race before, its best to keep it simple. 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. Every race requires heaps of legwork from those organising the event; the longer and more complicated the course, the more planning required.
So, if you’re looking to dip your toes into organising a new race, here are some bits of advice from us on getting started on the right foot.
Reach out to our Race Director Network
In just about any new venture, there’s nothing like learning from the people who’ve done it before. And that’s exactly where you should start when planning your first fun run, triathlon or cycle race. Here at Eventrac we have a wealth of race directors on our platform that organise a variety of different races, so we can help you find your feet by putting you in touch.
Sure, some marathons are owned by committees, communities and conglomerates. But when it comes to many of the thousands of marathons, ultramarathons and triathlons in the world, entrepreneurs are running the events, instead of running in them. And we nurture our relationships with them, to build a powerful network that you can tap into.
Getting involved is also a sure way of learning a few things. Why not sign up to volunteer at a couple of events you’re interested in or have enjoyed, and approaching race directors to see if you can work more closely with them in the run-up to the big day.
As long as you’re respectful in the way and time you approach other directors (don’t expect replies just before event day!), you can ask general questions like:
- How do you manage your staff and volunteers?
- How do you market your event?
- Do you have any tips for getting race insurance?
- How can I make my event memorable to get repeat customers?
And for some more specific information, here are some topics you can focus on for different types of races:
- For Triathlons, you might want to focus these questions on getting the right location, permits and licenses, and how they manage logistics in transitions.
- For trail runs, good questions could be around getting volunteers to their locations if its far from roads, managing in areas with poor signal, medical cover for more trechorous trails.
- Marathons might want more thought on the level of water provision throughout the course, the right level of runner support at the finish line and how many aid stations to have throughout.
- National Parks and feature destination races need advice on working with authorities, and measures needed for minimal disruption
Deciding a Race Budget
Costs are considerably different for different types of events, which means that some require higher economies of scale (larger entry numbers) to be viable. Building your race budget is essential in ensuring you know what you’re getting into. If you have a charity partner, you can also make sure they benefit too.
Like with any other aspect of your planning, if you don’t feel comfortable enough doing this yourself, make sure you get someone involved who does. This is an important aspect of managing an event and one you can’t risk messing up.
Location Related Costs
Here are things to consider, as for different types of races, your costs will vary depending on where you host it.
- 5k races: A 5k in a local park will likely require a relatively small fee from the council to use the area, provided it doesn’t clash with other events. If you want to host a road race 5k, road closures will add to the cost due to the increased fees, qualified highway staff, closure equipment like cones etc. and planning time.
- Longer road running races will require all of the costs for the 5k. If you host it all on closed roads, your closure costs will increase by the amount of traffic management equipment and staff you have to provide. For example, for a marathon, you will have 35km of extra road to account for which will need to be staffed, managed and equipped with closure equipment.
- Looping road running races can help reduce your road costs. Bear in mind that you’ll have to make runners aware of this so that they don’t feel cheated if they have to do 4 laps of a course when they thought it was different all the way.
- Medical costs will increase for more complex races such as trail runs, cycle races, or swimming races. This is due to the higher risk associated with bikes and swimming, or remote access ability for trails which means you’ll have to invest in quad bikes or lifeguards.
- Start Location costs will be relatively similar for most events, so here you just need to decide on what facilities you want to have available for your participants and if you’re willing to pay more for them, eg changing rooms.
- Volunteers: While the name volunteer might make it sound like there is no cost associated with getting these individuals out to your race, there actually are costs you’ll incur. If your race is longer, you’ll have to think about getting your volunteers across your course far and wide, or into remote trail areas if your race is in woodland or hills. Don’t forget about recruitment and training costs if you need more experienced volunteers to help fix bikes, treck up trail routes or have good navigation skills.
- Marketing: It’s more than likely you’ll need to spend money advertising and promoting your race. This will vary in cost with the location too - if you’re opting for a city race, it will be easier to get the word out. If you’re organising in a more remote area you will to market more with incentives for people to travel to you. This budget will have to go into advertising your race on Facebook or local press, as well as other online and offline promotions.
- Measuring your course can be difficult if you’re on tricky trail routes, or you’re trying to determine lengths of sea to put out buoys. You might need to invest in help if you can’t do it yourself, or make sure you set planning time aside for this. Runners hate nothing more than having their Garmin say they’ve reached 26.2 miles when your course hasn’t crossed the finish yet.
Do you want a serious race or a fun run? If you’re looking to get creative with the type of event you’re organising, having a theme can help you stand out. This works well for 5k runs in particular, but there's nothing to say you can’t have a themed marathon. Start by making a list of all the different ideas that come to mind. Here’s a few common 5K race themes you could consider for your race:
- Fun runs: Color runs, bubble runs, water gun runs, night/glow runs
- Seasonal runs: Turkey trots, Halloween runs, Santa runs
- Food-based runs: Beer runs, chocolate runs…Basically, if you can eat it, you can run for it
- TV/Movie-themed runs: Zombie runs, superhero runs, ghost and goblin runs – just mind the copyright with some of these!
If you’re a member of a running group or have an audience of experienced runners whose opinions you trust, ask for feedback on your ideas and additional suggestions.
If you want to organise a race which is friendly towards juniors, having a theme can often entice a younger audience to come along. Or in addition to your race, introducing a 2km run can make the event more of a family day out.
Sports Associations and Governing Bodies
Getting in touch with the relevant governing body or sports association for your race, whether that's the british triathlon federation or UK Athletics. They can provide advice on the best practices regarding timing and helping your athelets get official results on their databases.
Some of these offer courses you can book onto as well. Although they’re not compulsory to allow you to organise a race, they could help you get ahead of your planning and create some sound contingencies for your event to make sure you’re fully prepared for all scenarios.
Expanding your race portfolio can help you build up your revenue streams throughout the year, establish your brand as a race organiser and build up a wealth of experience in the industry. But making sure you’re putting on the right kind of events, to make sure you’re not out of your depth, have the resources to do so and the right information available to you is important. So do your research and make sure you’re up for the challenge, and get going to get another epic race under your belt!