How to put on your own race!

Getting started – by Guardian Online.

The amount of detail that goes into planning a race is huge, from insurance through to course planning – and making sure people actually know about it. The first thing we did was ask sports event companies to cost and pitch for the job. If you don’t use an event company, you’ll need to build a detailed planning calendar, factoring in:

Insurance for all runners.

At least six months to liaise with the local authorities to secure planning on your planned route.

Event day staff: don’t also underestimate the cost of marshals (although it’s worth asking the local running club if they will provide marshals in return for places).

Signage along the route at every mile or kilometre mark.

Refreshments for runners and spectators.

Medals, goody bags, runner numbers and chip timing.

Start and finish funnel fencing to ensure runners are safe.

Pace-based start time waves to ensure all runners have a good experience, irrespective of their speed.

Planning your venue

Location is important when attracting runners, who generally like to know the course will be scenic. We found that dealing with local authorities to secure access to parkland can be very slow and time consuming, hence the advice to build in a six-month contingency to allow for planning approval to come through. Without this, you may end up launching later than planned and have a tighter timeline to recruit your runners.

Launching the race and recruiting runners

Don’t underestimate the value of a detailed marketing plan that targets local networks, eg running clubs, health clubs and walking clubs. Build in time to research and create these databases, making personal contact with club managers where possible. If you’re setting up an event for a specific charitable cause, there will also be people and organisations who have a personal interest in supporting you.


If you have a corporate sponsor on board, take advantage of this by building team participation into the contract. This will help guarantee a certain number of runners and, if you’re a charity, funds for your specific cause.

If you don’t have a sponsor, you won’t have a database of corporate runners to tap into. Without this it is more of a challenge to recruit runners, so you need to be clever about targeting your natural supporters: friends and family, charity supporters, local corporates …

Finally, do what you can to secure free support. There are lots of brands that want to target runners and will be happy to provide information and samples for goody bags – just do your homework so you stand out as a quality experience in this growing but crowded market.


Race Director’s Checklist
Race director’s checklist by USATF.

The entry blank should contain the following information:
Entry Blank Information

  • Date of race
  • Starting time
  • Start and finish site(s), directions, transportation, parking information
  • Race distance
  • Course description (include terrain, landmarks, mile markers, elevation)
  • Course map
  • Course certification number
  • Race sanction with USA Track & Field
  • Sponsoring/assisting organizations
  • Municipalities recognition
  • Sponsor/contributor recognition
  • Age groups/Awards
  • Awards/Prizes (with depth in each category)
  • Club/corporate team categories/prizes (team rules spelled out), if applicable
  • Time/Location of awards ceremony
  • Amenities (Tshirt, etc. with limits)
  • Tshirt/package pickup information
  • Race information contact/address/telephone number
  • Entry fee (spell out nonrefundable!), entry deadline, check payable to…
  • Number pickup information
  • Postentry procedures
  • Mailing address (on the application part to be mailed and on the information part kept by the athlete)
  • Race limit, if applicable
  • Refreshments
  • Clinics and other related activities

The application part should request:

  • Name, address (street, city, state, zip), telephone
  • Age and date of birth, sex
  • USA T & F Number
  • Where applicable: Special category and team/club designation, estimated finish time
  • Signature (parent or guardian if under 18) acknowledging Waiver of Liability


Promote the race with help of the following methods:

  • Distribution of entry forms through mailing, at running stores, health clubs, at races
  • Posters
  • Press announcements (calendar listing) to local newspapers, running magazines, National
  • running magazines.
  • Television/Radio public service announcements
  • Press releases
  • Neighborhood flyer
  • Advertisements (New England Runner, USATF’s Exchange Zone)

Assign race photographer

1. for participants photo’s (sales) and

2. for documentation and future sponsor presentation

Pre Race

During the months preceding the race, the following tasks should be accomplished:

  • Municipal Permits
  • State Permits
  • Sanction (USATF, P.O. Box 1905, MA. 02146), providing insurance
  • Certificates of Insurance
  • Course measurement and certification
  • Course miles marked
  • Signage prepared for course and race site
  • Police Liaison/details arranged
  • Fire department notified
  • Hospitals notified/Ambulance services arranged or notified
  • Press/Course vehicles obtained
  • Tshirts/other giveaway items obtained
  • Race numbers/Safety pins obtained
  • Entry forms filed in alphabetical order and entry fees deposited

Volunteer committees established and captains appointed for:

  • registration
  • publicity and promotion
  • sponsors and donations
  • timing and scoring
  • medical
  • aid stations
  • course security/marshals/communications
  • results posting and distribution
  • awards
  • refreshments/cleanup

Runner’s information prepared for distribution and/or posting on race day:

  • Medical/weather information
  • Timing/starting lineup information
  • Course map with mile markers and aid stations
  • Clothing/checkin/changing facilities/showers
  • Results posting

Race Day

Final details for a smooth running and safe race:

Course/informational signs posted Volunteer/Official area assembled

  • tables/chairs/signage posted
  • coffee/refreshments
  • Tshirt/Official identification
  • Instructional briefings prepared

Press area assembled

  • tables/chairs/signage
  • copying machine, fax
  • race information/printouts

Preregistered runners area

  • list/printout posted
  • number pickup
  • tshirt/packet pickup

Post registration area setup

  • entry forms/pens/pencils
  • race numbers/pins
  • race packets
  • cash box/change
  • Trouble table setup
  • Police briefed
  • Course officials/marshals briefed
  • Start/Finish officials briefed
  • Official photographer(s) briefed (provide with shotlist)
  • Press/Course vehicle drivers briefed (someone very familiar with course should serve as guide in each vehicle!)
  • Trailsweep vehicle driver briefed (provide vehicle with water, cups, blankets, firstaid kit, etc.)
  • Official starter equipped and briefed
  • Start/finish banner(s) mounted
  • Start/finish review stands assembled
  • PA system(s) bullhorns functioning

Start/Finish line equipment in place:

  • pace/seeding signs
  • finish tape
  • chute materials (stanchions, rope)
  • digital clock
  • chronomix timers
  • computer system (working)
  • recording sheets, clipboards, pencils for timers, select timers, bib number recorders
  • bar code spindles (if applicable)
  • tables/chairs
  • electric power hookup (generator)
  • water station setup
  • Restroom facilities in place
  • Clothing checkin in place

Medical area setup

  • isolated, covered area near finish line
  • supervising MD and qualified nurses, EMT’s
  • communications
  • ice, IV’s, hot and cold fluids, cots, blankets
  • immediate triage capability

Water stations materials in place:

  • water/electrolyte replacement fluid
  • cups
  • pitchers
  • tables
  • barrels/trash bags
  • rakes (for cleanup)

Course material in place

  • mile/kilometer markers
  • directional arrows
  • water/aid station markers
  • communication equipment/personnel (ham radio volunteers)
  • stop watches for mile split callers

Results area functioning:

  • isolated area close to finish line
  • tables/chairs
  • electric power hookup
  • typewriters, wordprocessor and printer
  • copying machine
  • telephone/ax
  • preprinted awards/results sheets

Refreshments area functioning:

  • tables
  • trays
  • ice
  • knives, forks, spoons (depends on foods available), napkins
  • trash barrels/bags

Awards area functioning:

  • tables/chairs
  • podium/announcing stand
  • PA system
  • awards display area, with awards arranged in order of distribution
  • results posting board/area

Post Race

  • Cleanup accomplished (course, start and finish area, locker rooms, etc.)
  • Press release with results
  • Post race stories/photos to press
  • Post race mailing to participants
  • Thank you’s to sponsors, volunteers, contributors, municipalities, facility owners
  • Postrace evaluation meeting with organizing committee
  • Volunteer/Officials party


Sourced from and Guardian Online.

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