Tips for Running Clubs
Running clubs frequently produce races, attracting a diverse audience, most whom are not club members. Here are some methods of attracting more runners and creating larger, more economically viable events.
Race Management tips for running clubs
Most runners never race. Most runners who race, will never run a marathon. Most runners prefer short (5k) distances, lots of runners, and many non-running amenities. The typical race participant is not a club member – it is more likely to be someone whose life does not revolve around running and who may be unfamiliar with the term “split time.”
- Market your event to the appropriate type of runner. It may be competitive runners, fun runners, runners who live within easy driving distance, runners seeking a challenge, those looking for an easy run, etc. Build your event around the type of runner you are likely to attract – it may not be someone like you.
- Maintain a high-quality level of race operations. Race participants should not be thought of as colleagues or fellow runners sharing a running outing with you. They are customers. They are paying to participate in an event and their expectations do not change because the people producing the event are runners.
- State specific times and locations in your promotional materials for all event activities. Don't assume that everybody is familiar with local landmarks or knows where the weekly fun run takes place.
- Print and distribute an attractive entry form (even if you have an attractive web site).
- Highlight aspects of the race that are most likely to attract runners, not merely what is important to you or the club. Do you have a lot of post-race food? Live entertainment? A beautiful course? Valuable raffles? A really cool t-shirt? Think of what makes your race unique and why people will want to run it (not why you think they should want to run it).
- NEVER distribute a brochure that is designed in panels but not folded. It looks unfinished and many places you send it to will throw it away. Folded brochures are far more likely to be read by runners than flat pieces of paper. The brochures look better, fit more easily in display racks, and don't curl forward (becoming unreadable). Folded brochures are more easily handed to runners and take up less space on crowded brochure tables, a definite plus when competing for space.
- If you must print flat pieces for inclusion in a newsletter, for example, don't simply use the unfolded brochure. Design a piece that fits in a newsletter. Don't fold a three-panel brochure into two panels, either. The race looks cheap and lazy, and the form is more difficult to read.
- Make it easy for people to contact you. Include specific contact information in all of your race materials – web site (if you have one), email, telephone number, mailing address (with zip code). Publish a telephone number that will always be answered – in person or by voicemail. Don't use “evening only” telephone numbers. Most people call from work. Return calls and emails promptly.
- Offer on-line registration. It will increase your field and make it easier for runners to sign-up. Don't force runners to download a printed application (although it is still a good idea to offer it as an option). On-line is the norm – paper applications are the exception.
- Do not assess runners a surcharge for registering online. Your event should absorb the cost. On-line registration saves you money – you don't have to keystroke information, you just download it into your database. And you don't have to worry about database errors since runners will enter their own data. Do everything possible, including offering discounts, to get runners to register online. It will be worth it.
- Offer a bona fide discount to people who register on line. If you offer a $2 discount but the runner has to pay a $1.76 surcharge, then the discount is only $.24 If you feel you can't afford to offer a real discount, raise the entry fee for paper applications (these cost you more to process). Do everything possible to drive registrants on-line. Everybody has internet access, either at home, at work, or at a public library.
- Deliver what you promised to sponsors - packet stuffers, banners, logo placement, product distribution, public announcements, press releases, etc. Provide sponsors with everything you agreed to in your written contract (all sponsor contracts should be in writing, even if you have a longstanding relationship with a company).
- Think of additional things you can do for a sponsor – even if it isn't in your contract. If, for example, you staff a table at an expo, consider distributing sponsor product as a premium for signups. Sponsors will think more highly of you, and be more likely to support your race in the future, if they know you are looking out for their interests.