General Characteristics Needed

  • Visualization - being able to visualize every aspect of an event before it happens
  • Calm and quick thinking under pressure; patience
  • Don't be intimidated by the challenge
  • You need to be exceptionally well organized; being prepared; labor intensive; don't leave to race day
  • Charisma and leadership qualities and ability to surround yourself with hard working, dependable and experienced people; trust (to a point), always follow up
  • Great to be involved in a sport where you make people feel good about themselves

Pre-Race (planning)

  • Scope of event and objectives - need to determine this first; why are you doing this?
  • Set reasonable goals and expectations - remember, though, it is only a road race!
  • Is it a business for you?
  • Consider multi-distance events - kids, 5K, 5M, etc.
  • Choosing your course - critical to the long term success of the race
  • Race application - don't skimp, promotional piece, consult with your timing company
  • Application distribution - stores, mailing lists, running clubs, health clubs
  • Distribution at other races - ask first, cars, finish line, tables, pick up your trash
  • Choosing a charity - do races actually raise money? Pledges, line item in budget
  • Include older divisions - 70+, 5-year intervals
  • Race packet - people have a tendency of equating the value they are receiving with what is in the bag
  • Set up as much as is possible the day before the race, hire detail, do not leave for race day what you can do the day before; why plan for months and then rush?
  • Operations Manual - the bible
  • Budget - it really is the "race director"
  • If you must limit the field size, always set aside enough entries to cover your special requests
  • Pretend event is 1-2 weeks before the actually date
  • Planning for next year starts even before this year's race

Pre-Race (race day)

  •  Tell staff and volunteers to arrive 1/2 hour before you actually need them
  • Place signage from the main highway to the race site directing runners to appropriate locations
  • Anticipate your parking plan and make sure you have monitors and/or equipment to direct runners even before the first runner arrives or they will simply follow one another

Starting Line

  • Registration process - layout so that it is clear and efficient, enough room, it flows
  • Don't use audible countdown, i.e., 10, 9, 8,...1, go!
  • Line up runners before the actual starting line then move forward to the actual starting line or create elite athlete corral
  • Starting mechanism - don't use gun, whistle, be unique, make sure all can hear
  • Other pre-race events - aerobic warm up
  • PA announcer - very important, should have numeric list, sponsor list, spotters, charismatic, not obnoxious
  • If you are the RD, never leave the main area of activity, you must be readily accessible to your staff and volunteers


  • Water stations - every mile, both sides, don't skimp
  • Accurately measured course - at least state what it is
  • Design a course that is easy to manage - point-to-point races are tough
  • Lead vehicles - don't neglect or wait until race day; pre-race meeting with drivers

Finish Line

  • Breaktape - always in photo, practice, repeat sponsors name
  • Banner - facing photographers, wind holes
  • Championchip - the wave of the future


  • Important - post race activities, food, entertainment
  • Refreshments - pick "easy" foods, ones that don't leave much trash
  • Results, posting, internet
  • Awards - merchandise, medals, trophies, unique
  • Awards ceremony - winners first, move along quickly
  • Call/email in results - people like to see results in paper; your obligation
  • Clean up - don't leave until venue is clean; trash containers; ask people to help; hire crew


  • Communications - 2 way radios, ham radio operators, cellular phones (Nextel)
  • Equipment (and volunteers) - extremely important
  • Aesthetics - fencing, tents, balloons, banners, etc.
  • Referee/officials - don't police your own event
  • Volunteers - misnomer, contract, just as committed
  • Don't lose money
  • Remember the basics - accurate course, water, accurate results
  • It's supposed to be FUN.