Why you should not direct your first 5k!
Why don’t some events make it past the first year or even the concept stage? It is not because the race directors don’t want to do a good job or be successful. It is not because they don’t work hard or aren’t good people. It is because they don’t always understand what they are getting into and/or have the knowledge and resources required to put on a successful event. Over the next several months, I am going to use this blog to arm you with that knowledge and give you some resources that can help you put on a successful race that grows for many years. Just like our plan and execution of the Destin Marathon, we don’t put on half-assed events and we don’t expect you to either. Those events are a disappointment to the runners and usually never become the second year events.
So you want to be a race director?
When you encounter a facet of race directing in this blog, imagine how difficult it will be to complete. Now multiply that by three. That will give you a rough estimate of the time and energy required to complete that task correctly. In the first year, if you are doing it right the race will consume your life for at least a few months and be a major part of your life for several other months. Get a great staff and that will help decrease your time commitment.
Your significant other, family, and close friends must support your effort. Your spouse, because this impacts both your pocketbooks and your time together. Your family, because they are going to be your strongest supporters. And your closest friends, because they are the only people you can actually count on when crisis arrives...and it will. You, your family, friend and staff are the worker pillar of the three pillars of any successful race (Workers, Runners, and Sponsors).
You need money, or at least good credit. Our money blog will go into this in detail, but you must have a reliable source of startup funds. Unfortunately, most people wait until the last minute to register. This means you are spending a LOT of cash before you have the registration income. So someone (you, your club, your charity, etc) is taking a very serious financial risk when you decide to host a race.
It's an old saying, but true- the buck stops with you. You are thinking of how proud everyone will be of you when you put on a great race and it is successful. But think for a minute about what happens if your race is a failure or a runner dies. If you follow the tips in this blog, we are going to greatly reduce that risk. But it still remains. At the end of the day, you are the one that will take total responsibility- even for things out of your control- good or bad.
You don't have to know how to do everything but, just like a small business owner, you need to know something about everything. Or, at least, you need to know someone who can do each item. If you don't already have experience in a given area, you will develop a working knowledge of every item on the race checklist. This can be fun, but it is also a lot of hard work.
Hopefully I have not talked you out of being a race director yet. There are some really awesome parts of being a race director. Seeing someone who had never ran 1 mile prior training for your race cross the finish line with tears of joy in their eyes; Raising much needed funds for the charity you are so passionate about; Giving runners the well-organized, fun event that they deserve. But before we get to all those awesome end results, you and I have a whole lot of work to do.
Below are some items we are going to cover in detail over the next few months. This is a broad list and each of the items listed will have several tasks within them that will have to be discussed and completed. I reserve the right to switch around the order of these blogs, but we will get to them all in due time.
-Pick Your Poison: Choosing the right event for you and your organization.
-The Basics: Who, what, when, where, and how.
-Managing Money: Budgeting and how not to lose your ass.
-Branding & Marketing: Selling your race to the runners.
-Runner’s Experience: Make your race one that they will remember.
-Race Day Execution: The worst/best day of your life.
-Volunteers/Staff: Finding and tasking people who will keep you sane.
-Worst Case Scenario: What to do when all hell breaks loose.
-The Race Director’s Code