All the questions that need to be answered when putting on a race
San Marcos has had three races the past three weekends for area runners. For most runners entering these races, they hope that it will be well-organized and the race shirt and awards are worthy of the entry fee. What most runners do not realize is the amount of work and decisions made by about five or six behind-the-scenes race committee members. A race does not just happen a few days before the race. A few of the decisions the race committee must make before the race can take place are many and often complex.
It starts with selecting a date for the race. Will there be other races on the same day? Usually a minimum of three months of planning are needed. It is better if the planning begins five or more months in advance. Then the decision of where will the race be held is decided. Is it in a city where permits are needed? Is it at a location that organizers will need permission to use the site? Will police manpower be needed for traffic control?
What are you going to call your race? A catchy name that catches the runner’s attention is needed. And how far will the race be? A 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathon, or even a marathon needs to be decided. Will the race have multiple distances, or maybe a relay event? Why do races have to be in metric distances? Most runners have no clue how far a kilometer is. Why not have a race in miles that most runners understand? What charity is the race for? What about the race logo that will go on the shirt? Too big and runners do not like it because it prevents evaporation when running. Too small and nobody can see the race name and who organized the race. Who designs the logo?
What type of race shirt are you going to order? Cotton tee shirt, soft cotton, 50-50 blend shirt, quick-dri fabric shirt or a tank top? Will the shirt be short-sleeved or long-sleeved? What color will the shirt be and how many colors will be on the logo? Each color adds to the cost. Where will you get the best prices for your race shirt from companies that print shirts? Is it better to order local so you can stay in contact with them, or do you order out of town for a cheaper cost? Is there a minimum number of shirts that need to be ordered? What about a possibility of having to re-order after the race?
What about awards for the top finishers? Do you use five or 10 year age separations? At what age do you start awards? What age do you finish the awards? Do you have a 12-and-under, or a 13-19 age, or just under 20 years? Do you stop at 40 years, 50 years, 60 years, or even over 70 years? Do you give small, inexpensive medals, larger, more prominent medals, a standard trophy of a male or female runner, or a victory statue for both male and female awards? Do you have a plaque for an award? Should it be wood, or ceramic, or glass? How large should the award be? All one size with first, second and third place on a name plate? How about small for third, medium for second, and large for first? What about overall winner’s awards? Do you have a Masters, Senior Masters, or Grand Masters awards also?
How much will you charge for the race? Can you get enough sponsors for the race to cover your cost of shirts and awards and advertising? If the cost is too high you might expect fewer runners. If it is too low you may not make much money for your organization. Where and how do you advertise the race? Online registration or mail-in entry forms. Chip timing or card and bucket system to determine award winners. How much is the cost for online and which company offers the best service? What time will the race start? Too early and runners from a distance may not come. Too late, especially in a Texas summer, it may have high temperatures that may cause problems. Do you need liability insurance and EMT and ambulance service in case of medical problems? What are these costs?
How many volunteers will be needed for direction people, aid station workers, registration and pre-race packet pick up workers, course set up workers, parking space people, and announcers? Where will you find enough volunteers? Refreshments, coolers, cups, and tables needed. Do you have a sound system for the announcements? Is there restrooms available, or do you need to order portable toilets? And then how about starting the race? Do you have a starter’s pistol, an air horn, clap two boards together, a whistle, or just say “go”? Answer all of these questions and you can organize a race.