Race Director Checklist
What, Where, When!
What type of event are you planning?
There are so many races to choose from: 5K, 10K, half marathons, marathons, team relays, triathlons, cycling events or theme-based races. The list goes on and on. For your first race, you want to consider starting small.
Even if you have your heart set on that iron distance triathlon or a marathon, you may want to try a shorter distance to get a feel for what’s in store. A rule of thumb is if you have over 50 for your first race it’s a success.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing a good location can be a big factor in determining your event’s success. Not every race has to be on a beach but try to pick a location that will entice people to come out. You want your competitors to feel safe while competing. Also consider if it is spectator friendly, is it easily accessible for mom, two kids and a stroller?
No matter how great you think your event may be if it’s hard to get to, people will pass it up for a different event.
Consider parking and access. I participated in a triathlon which took place at a lake in a state park. Even though participants did not have to pay an additional parking fee they had to stop at the gate and get a parking pass. The event was scheduled to start at 8:00 and at 8:00 there were still almost 100 cars lined up to get into the event. Also think about road closures. At the
Choose a Date
Scheduling your race is one of the most important things you’ll do as a race director. You want to choose a date that doesn’t conflict with other races in your area. Scheduling your event on the same day as a seasoned event will spell disaster. Consider things like holidays and even other non-sporting events that may be taking place; these could take a large portion of your potential racers.
Check with your local timing company, they can be a wealth of information and usually know what dates have a lot of competition.
You will also need to consider the timeline. If you are going to allow “day of registration” you will need to take into account how many people will take advantage of that and give yourself plenty of time to process them before the race. Get with your race timer to find out how much time they will need to input your late registrations into their system. I have seen events postponed up to an hour while registrations are being input into the timing system.
Now that you know what type of event, the location, and the date it’s time to concentrate on other details.
To time or not to time
A lot of this depends on what type of event you have planned. A fun run or walk for charity usually does not need sophisticated timing. If you plan on giving awards then you need to think about hiring a timer. Typically a professional timing company will charge between $3.00 and $10.00 per athlete depending on the size of your event. Most event planners pass this cost on to the athlete. A typical non-timed event will have an entry fee of around $15.00 while timed events will be around $25.00. Most race timers offer some type of race director services for additional fees. If this is your first event you may want to consider utilizing this service.
You have your course picked out, now you need to do some leg work. Is it going to be sanctioned and or certified? Races sanctioned through USATF, USAT, or USA Cycling will help provide insurance coverage for your race. Plan on $1.00 -$2.00 per registration for sanctioning as well as additional fees of up to $10.00 to athletes that are not already members of the organizations. You can go to their respective websites for more information. Sanctioning is not a hard thing to get accomplished and will offer legitimacy to your race.
Certified courses use a professional certifier to come out and certify the distance of the course. This is done with specialized equipment and allows for racers to set certified times for the distance. Athletes trying for a personal best will look for certified courses. Be cautious, sometimes certifying a course could limit how you have it planned out. I recently put on a race which we were going to certify. The course turned out to be 5.5K, if we could shorten the course to 5K but we would have had to split our starting and finish line which totally changed our overall day of race plan. We elected not to have it certified because of that fact.
Do you need a permit?
Most events are going to require some type of event or parade permit. Especially if you are want to close roads or control intersections. Don’t wait until the last minute; the wheels of city and county government do not turn fast. Present your plan in plenty of time to allow for problems or a change in course if you are forced to do so. Also check with all local municipalities, I put on a race last year and found out 2 weeks prior to the race that a 1 mile section of the course belonged to a different municipality and they required a parade permit. We got the required permit but it is not something you want to come up 2 weeks before your race.
Are you going to need traffic control? If so, consider off duty law enforcement at any major traffic point. They normally charge $20.00 - $25.00 per hour. Plan on at least 1-2 volunteers at any intersection or traffic crossing, they will need safety vests and flags. Ambulance or EMT service is also something to consider, most will come out and park at the event for free.
Let’s face it; you never need one till you really need one. You might think your fine on your 5K without a port-a-potty at the halfway mark but it’s a lot like “Field of Dreams” if you have it, they will come.
Whether you are a "for profit event" or "raising money for a charity," you want your race to end up in the black. Rule of thumb – Raise enough in sponsorship to cover 100% of your race cost and the entire entry fee will be profit. This is easier said than done. In today’s economy it is harder and harder to find sponsors to fund your event. The key is to show “what’s in it for them.” Make sure your sponsors know they will get as much publicity as possible. Set up different sponsorship levels that entice them to raise their level of donation. Sponsors like to be visible and the more people attending the event the better result they will see for their dollars spent. Offer them the ability to put something in the goody bag, or the ability to put up a banner at the race, or even sponsor a water stop. Also solicit sponsors that tie well with your race. You probably wouldn’t want the local smokeshop to be a lead sponsor in a race to fight lung cancer.
Your budget will change and adjust as you get closer to race day. Some costs are tied directly to the number of entries and the larger that number the larger your budget will need to be. I try to go over the budget at least once a month up until 30 days prior to the race then at least once per week.
When you develop your budget try to anticipate all the expenses that might come in to play, I’ve included a list that incorporates at least some of your anticipated expenses.
Permits Banners Advertising
Flyers Awards Port-a-potties
Traffic Control Sanctioning Certification
Race timing T-shirts or give-aways Race numbers
Refreshments Table or fencing rental PA system