Race Director

Three years ago, before I became a race director, I used to look at different areas where I ran and think, “Oh it would be cool to put on a race here.”  I don’t think that much anymore. Just kidding I do, but being a race director is a lot of work.

Race directors (RD) are amazing people (and not just because I’m one). Putting together a race is a lot of work. There are a lot of moving parts that need to move together by race day.  My race is a 5k and 10k called Run for Home. It has become easier over the three years, not because there is less to do, but because I know what I need to do and who to contact to get things done.

A RD doesn’t get paid for the hours spent filling out permit applications, waste management plans, and Americans with Disabilities plans.

They don’t get paid for creating race maps, talking on the phone with parks and recreation, local police officers, barricade companies, t-shirt companies, medal companies, and event companies.

They don’t get paid for days they spend seeking donations to support the race and prizes they can raffle off at the race. They also don’t get paid for gathering and organizing all the volunteers for the event.

RD’s are volunteers who love the sport and love runners.

So where do all the race fees go?? Alright, so I will say that some of the big races have employees who get paid, but most, dedicate the sweat and blood out of love. Still where do the race fees go?

Race fees pay for t-shirts, medals, permits (city and county), liability insurance, local law enforcement, port-a-potties, recycling bins, hand washing stations, reflective vests for volunteers, food and water that doesn’t get donated, bibs, timing company, start/finish arch, posters for advertising, registration websites, advertising with any other media. There is a lot of places for money to go and nifty new things always show up.

If you’re thinking about putting on a race, here are some tips:

  1. Pick a weekend that doesn’t have a lot of other charity events.
  2. Submit an application to the city or county where the race is going to happen. If you expect a large number of people you may need an additional application/permit for a “mass gathering.”
    1. Start contacting anyone required for the permit. There is usually paperwork that has to be filled out and submitted.
  3. If you are using an event company for the timing or start/finish line make sure they can be there on the date you’ve chosen.
  4. Start planning early: get your race listed on race calendars, hang up flyers, and start getting everyone you know to register.
  5. Gather your volunteers and make sure you know what you need them to do and how many you need. You may need police to close roads or to get barricades to direct traffic/runners away from each other.
  6. If you’re doing food of some type, you need to have the department of health check it out.
  7. If you are doing a raffle or getting sponsor, you have to start months before the event.
  8. There are lots of websites that you can use for race registration. I use Registermyrace.com
  9. Figure out if you are doing race day registration and if you are how are you going to accept payment: Square readers are awesome.
  10. You’ll have to order shirts and medals three to four weeks in advance.



Organizing a 5k

running is my passion

I’m putting together a 5k and 10k event for the Volunteers of America to support the opening of their new Homeless Youth Shelter. The shelter will provide youth, ages 15-22, who are homeless with a place to find services such as mental health, education, employment, substance abuse, legal assistance, and a warm bed and shower.

The race will be in June and the shelter will open in the fall 2015. While I ran the Anti- bullying 5k over the weekend, I took notes in my little brain because my race will draw a similar crowd of people and will be on a paved trail about the same width of the trail used on Saturday. It was interesting to see the race both as a runner/participate and as a race director.

5k races for charity draw a diverse crowd, kids of all ages and adults who get out there because they feel strongly about the issue, but have never run a step in their adult life. Many of the adults walked most of the course and I can’t help but hope that this race will put their fitness and health front and center, and call them to action for themselves as much as they are called to action for the issue that has them out there.

It was really amazing to watch all the runners come across the finish line red faced coated in sweat. Some were smiling and laughing, while others were just searching for a place to sit down. Usually, I’m so beat after a race that my primary objective is to find the nearest food and bed. If you ever forget or question why you run, stand at the finish line of a race, and watch the joy of accomplishment shine on all the faces.

I’ve had to learn a lot about how races are organized and what goes into putting one on. It’s a lot of work if anyone is wondering. You have to get a permit from the city or county. Set up websites for registration, organize volunteers, get liability insurance, meet with police, barricade companies, and parks and recreation departments. Makes your head spin.

One of the things I took away from the 5k is that at the beginning of my event, I’ll ask slower runners and walkers to position themselves at the back of the starting crowd and to keep to the far right when walking or slowing down. This will allow faster runners to pass on the left and not run into the back of them or have to jump off the side of the trail into sticks and mud.

Is there anything you guys hate or love about events you have run?