Not all organizers plan to distribute prizes, but those who do should keep proceedings short and lively.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
Some races I go to have award ceremonies and some don’t. How do races determine whether or not to do a formal award ceremony after the race? What do you think the majority of runners want from them these days?
Race directors and their teams work so hard on their races, but many times, they neglect the final event: the award ceremony. You’d think directors would want to end the day on a high note. Races need to prepare better for this last impression by considering the following:
Do we even need a formal award ceremony? Some races simply present awards to the overall winners and mail out age-group awards, eliminating the long, drawn-out ceremony. While busy runners may prefer this, others would rather receive their award in front of their peers (even if almost no one sticks around to see them accept it).
Who should coordinate and emcee the award ceremony? There needs to be a point person and a small team of helpers working on organizing the ceremony long before the race even begins. That day, it’s important to have a charismatic announcer who knows the running industry and can keep things moving.
What should the schedule look like? Typically, there are two parts of an award ceremony: speeches and thank-yous from organizers, then the distribution of awards. To avoid a restless crowd, it can help to promote the ceremony as two separate programs. (For example, from 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. is Race Acknowledgements, then from 10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. is Award Distribution.) Keep everything as short and simple as possible.
Who gets awards first? Some organizers think that starting with age-group awards and finishing with overall awards encourages more runners to stick around longer. Sometimes that works; sometimes it doesn't.
Does everyone get announced? If 50 or more awards need to be distributed, it saves time to have only the overall and special category winners (masters, wheelchair, and so on) accept awards in front of the crowd. Age-group winners can report to an awards tent near the stage to pick up their prizes.
What happens to no-shows? Organizers need to decide in advance whether they’ll mail awards to people who aren’t present to receive them and then state their policy clearly in prerace materials.