I have been doing a lot of thinking (about races) lately.
In all honesty, I had sincerely hoped for 2016 to be a year of scaling back on the racing. My thoughts were to focus on a few "main" attractions and do some other random races now and then. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!! (I think we all know how well THAT played out)
|2016 Races thus far...1 Stair Climb, 4-5K's, 2-8K's, 2-10K's, 3-13.1's, and 1 Ulltra
|Everyone loves racing!
Here's what I would do if I were the race director....
First of all, how about a Rewards Program? There are many races I do repeatedly, and I don't think twice about paying full price to do them. Granted, most races offer an early bird discount, but that's offered to everyone, new and returning runners alike. What about those who loyally return every year? A little bit of a discount would be such a nice perk. I'm not talking about a half price deal, but even a $5-$10 discount for returning racers would really make me feel appreciated and acknowledged.
Next, let's talk swag, specifically the notion of Optional Swag. I appreciate that races need sponsors, and most sponsors prefer to be recognized for their generosity...and the best place to do so is on the event swag. Most races offer t-shirts as the swag of choice. Those of us who do a lot of racing. though, acquire a lot of shirts. A lot of these shirts aren't exactly the most flattering (especially the dreaded unisex-sized shirts). Often times, the race shirts are bought in bulk (in an effort to keep the expenses down), and that off-price "pricing" is usually reflected as part of the race registration (did you know that?). I have done a hand-full of races where the participants were given the option of getting a reduced registration if they elected to not get an event shirt. I think that is, truly, a win-win for everyone...the people who want an event shirt can get one, and those who aren't eager for another shirt to add to their wardrobe can save a few dollars. Another option, which I would consider if I were the Race Director, is to have a donation box onsite for those who don't wish to keep the event shirt.
Depending on the area, I'd entertain the idea of actually turning my race into a Series of Races, and offering different races held throughout the year. Just think about it...races in each of the four seasons, all with unique seasonal swag. For example, the winter event could include a stocking hat, the spring race could have a long-sleeved shirt, the summer racers could get singlets, and gloves or arm warmers for the fall event. I have also seen race series that offer medals for each individual event, as well as a bonus medal for completing all of races within the series.
|This hat from the IMT Des Moines Marathon (Principal Road Race 5K) has been a favorite swag item!
Another crucial piece of the puzzle is Pre and Post Race Communication. No matter how early the registration opens prior to race day, there needs to be on-going communication from the race director (or "the committee") with the event participants. This could start out as a monthly check-in (via email or phone text), encouraging not only the registered participants in their training, but it also could help foster those participants to consider having friends and family join them on race day. As the event date draws nearer, the check-ins could become weekly and then daily in the final days prior to the race itself. There have been some races where I've totally forgotten I'd registered for them...until the week of the event. A little more communication from the race director(s) would have been appreciated.
Finally, how about offering the participants Free Pictures? This would not only be a great way for a local (or a new) photographer to get their name out there, but a great perk for the participants. All of the pictures would have the photographer's name/logo/trademark on them, so they'd be getting free advertising in exchange for making their race day pics available online (and the participants could also order finished prints if they'd so choose).
|Even though I look like I'm in pain, I love how this (free) pic turned out
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What do you think? Any thing(s) you'd add to my roster if YOU were the Race Director? Have you ever been on race/event committee? Ever returned to a favorite event, year after year?
I'm joining a new (to me) link-up today....Thanks to Amanda from Running with Spoons for hosting the Thinking Out Loud link-up! Do head over and check out what she's thinking about (out loud, of course), and see what everyone else has to say.