Choosing the right Location for your Race

19 Nov, 2019 02:45 By: Nikki Hawkes

Location is a big-ticket item that sets the tone of your event, so it’s important to get it right. Before setting your heart on a space, make sure you know exactly what to look for. After all, the location could be a part of your race name and be one of the first things people see!

You’ll have to work much harder at other aspects of your event, if you're compromising on location. If you’re going to have a race in a sorry part of town as opposed to within city landmarks or on a waterfront, you’ll likely have fewer participants. People flock to a good venue.  To help you out, we’ve put together a handy checklist with all the questions you should ask when scouting venues and locations. 

Transport

No matter how unique you think your event may be, if it's tough to reach, people won't register. What transport options do you have to your start and finish location?

  • Trains are the most favourable of course. If a train, underground or metro station is within walking distance to your start line, that's one worry and hesitation ticked off the list for potential participants. 
  • Uber or other taxi apps will make it extremely convenient if the station is too far to walk to get to your event. It's especially great for late planners! 
  • Buses are the next best option, so check their frequency and stop locations relative to your event. Are they walking distance?
  • Local Taxis are your last resort, and ideally, these should just be needed from a bus stop or train station to your start line.
  • Special event services could come in handy if your transport options are looking bleak. If you’ve found a location which is absolutely stunning and you simply can’t shake how perfect a race would be there, you should consider investing in an event minibus or coach to attract people to enter. This will come at an upfront cost, which you can choose to make back if you charge people for the service. Without an additional helping hand to get people to a remote location however, you might not reach the numbers you’re hoping for.

You’ll need to promote these options heavily on your race website, info pages on your Eventrac Platform and your Facebook event page. Transport will always be involved in someone's decision to attend an event. 

Terrain

As a race director, this might seem obvious, but you need to look at your surroundings! The location requirements for a trail run will be very different from that of a city cycle sportive. So depending on what kind of race you’re organising, here are a few key things to consider when choosing your route: 

  • Route Incline - Is this race for beginners or is it a ‘challenge’ for veterans of the sport? Incline will affect many athletes' ability and willingness to participate. 
  • Trail Width - Will runners have to be single file? How will this affect race timing and competitiveness? 
  • Road Width - can a car get past if there runners/cyclists on the road at any one point, or will it have to be fully closed? Can 2 cars get past each other if coming from opposite directions with runners on the road? 
  • Waterways - is there a risk of flooding? Do you need to add precautionary signage to caution runners of slippery paths and/or rivers?
  • Residential - will people be able to leave their houses? How will you build goodwill in the community so that your race does not cause disruption? 
  • Businesses  - will customers have normal access to businesses on the route? How will you minimise disruption? 
  • Busy roads - Is there a path for runners? How will you manage the closures? 
  • Start and finish - Will these be 2 separate locations? Can you create a loop route to get back to the start, or will you have to do an ‘out and back’ route? Do you have to do more than one lap of the course? These will affect the enjoyability of your race, runners often enjoy different surroundings for more of the course, but for cyclists having several loops isn’t looked down on. 
  • Aid Stations - are there enough places where it is safe to place water stops? How will volunteers get to them? Can you get there to set them up?

These observations will be specific to the type of race you are organising. A the end of the day, once you get runners to your race, the route and what they felt during the race is what they will be taking away from it all. 

Parking

Can people drive to your race? Somewhere to park is especially important if your event isn’t close to public transport links. If your race is situated in a town or village, the chances are there will be a local car park nearby, so your job is to make sure people know where it is and how to get from there to your race start line. Parkopedia is a great search tool for car parks and their costs, which you can send out to runners in the run-up to your event. 

If you can offer free parking, that's especially attractive to racers so they don’t have to add too many event expenses to their entry fee. They will remember this in the future when they tally up the ‘total cost’ of your event, certainly impacting their decision to sign up again. You could negotiate with a local landowner to use their area for your event's parking, or work closely with the council to get a special event permit for a particular car park. 

Cost

You’ve no doubt got a price range in mind but with a race location, it’s not as black and white as just hiring an event venue. The terrain of your race will come into play here, making a big difference to your management style and expenses.

Know exactly what’s included before signing the dotted line. Don’t be afraid to negotiate either. Being flexible on the date can help, as certain days of the week usually cost less if you’re looking at venue hire or road closures. Remember to always confirm the cost, dates, times and details in a written contract.

Here are a couple of things to think about to help set your sights in the right place:

  • Public areas can vary in cost depending on their use and footfall. If your start location is in the town centre of a small village it will be much less than in a large city. If you need to restrict access to parking bays for your event, you’ll need to factor staff and payment for those too. 
  • Private land and property can vary largely in cost depending on how you work with the owners. It can be completely free if you establish a sponsorship agreement with them, or if they can trade food or drink at your event to generate a stream of revenue that way instead. If you want to use their land for cars, bear in mind the costs associated with managing this. You’ll need staff to direct cars and tickets to manage parking logistics. So if you are considering a revenue split from parking fares with the landowner make sure you’ve factored this in. 
  • Road Closures vary depending on their size, the respective council and how much staff is required to manage them. If your chosen route has 3 roundabouts, the cones, barriers, stewards and signage required will be much heavier than on paths and country lanes. 

Facilities

What facilities are available at your event? Here are a couple to look out for that could save you time and money when organising your race:

  • Toilets. If there are already bathroom structures available for the public to use, that could save you some money on portable ones, and likely be nicer for your participants to use! 
  • Electricity availability will also save you some logistics if you can cut generators out of the question for your PA systems and music. Nearby pubs or shops can sometimes supply this for you if you liaise with them in a friendly manner. 
  • Equipment proximity. This is a bonus, but if you’re near a town hall or similar establishment, it might be that they loan you the use of tables and chairs for the day! 

Accommodation 

Finally, accommodation might be important to your event if your race is unique enough for people to travel from far enough to stay the night. Good choice of Airbnb’s and budget hotels such as travel lodge are great assets to have, so make sure you market them correctly to your runners so that they know what is available to them. Developing relationships with certain accommodation providers could mean you can negotiate a special event discount code for your race to give your runners! 

A great tool to show participants the available accommodation options near your event is Stay22. Their widget can be added to your website, showing runners the available options along with the distance from the start line! And what's more, you can get paid commission from the bookings people make through it for your event.

It's a no brainer. Check them out and integrate it into your event information pages! 

 

We hope that was helpful! 

If you start with defining your race goals as much as you can, you’ll be on the right track to find the perfect location for your route and great start venue. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your event, our platform or simply want to chat! Drop us an email at support@eventrac.co.uk

 

 

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