The 5 W's of Race Planning

Welcome back everyone for the next edition of A Race Director’s Guide: Taking Strides Towards your Best Race where we give you helpful tips and tricks to propel your next event to the next level! This week we will talk about the 5 W’s you should think about when planning your next race. Yes, the 5 W’s, just like the ones we learned back in 3rd grade. Believe it or not, asking yourself these 5 simple questions in your planning phase can have a great impact on the overall success of your race!

 Who

Who is the target audience that you are looking to appeal to? And while it may seem obvious that your demographic is simply “athletes” or “runners,” the first W, “who” goes much deeper below the surface. Taking the time to evaluate who you wish to attract to your race will help you plan what kind of event to put on. As a bit of advice, do a little bit of market research of your surrounding area. If you notice an influx of middle aged to older aged community members, this will help you to plan for that market of runners. This simple evaluation is most important when it comes to your promotional planning and advertising and could save you a lot of work and even money in the long run. By recognizing your “who” early on in the planning process, you won’t have to waste your valuable time and resources advertising to the wrong markets or placing promotions in the wrong places.

What

Now that you know your “who,” it is time to plan for the “what.” What kind of race has the best opportunity to draw in your target audience? If your race is located in a college town, perhaps a beer run would have great success. However, if your race is located in a suburb with many families and young children, a beer run may not be as prominent. The “what” in your planning process is crucial to your overall success and the success of your event as it can be directly linked to your participation numbers.

When

Timing is key when planning for an event. Many race directors fall victim to tunnel vision while planning their races and forgetting that they are not the only race directors out there. Don’t make this same mistake by being cognizant of other events taking place in your surroundings. I can’t tell you how many races I have seen suffer in their participation numbers due to the simple fact that it was scheduled on the same date of other events nearby. It isn’t that their race wasn’t great, but runners can only attend one race at a time and numbers were stretched between multiple events rather than one. One way to avoid making this mistake is by looking at the various race calendar websites available to your for the dates and times of other events before setting the date for your own.

Some great race calendar resources at your disposal are:

-          Running in the USA

-          My Race Pal

-          Allow Twitch

-          Tri Find

-          American Trail Running Association

Take a look at these useful race calendar websites and try to find a date where your race can shine without having to compete with other events in the area!

Where

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “location, location, location!” Location can really make or break an event in many cases. When planning for your race, it is important to weigh all of your options for venues and locations where you can hold your race. After all, your participants will be out on your course for an extended period of time, why not give them some nice scenery while they run the race? Simply running them on an old backroad won’t give your athletes much to remember afterwards. We have timed races in mountains, through the woods, and along rivers, all of which never fail to amaze those who participate in the event. Running a race through new and interesting places is one great way to ensure that your runner will look forward to coming back the following year and years to come! Explore your surroundings and find a place that offers more than only the correct distance for your runners, a place that offers an exciting experience and memories for everyone who takes to the course! (Always make sure you have permission to use any location before moving too far along in the planning process!)

Why

The final “W” is quite possible the most important question to ask yourself while planning a new race. More important than who you are trying to appeal to, or what kind of race you plan to produce. The final “W,” “Why” refers to the meaning behind your race. And this reasoning plays a larger role in race success than any of the other aspects by far. Are you raising money for a specific cause? Or are you trying to raise awareness for an issue in your community? While a majority of the runner population is likely to run in an event regardless of the cause simply for their love of running, having a strong reasoning and cause for people to run for is a great way to draw in even untrained athletes. People love to feel as if they have contributed more than just their time when registering to participate in something. So, in your planning, think about why you are planning your race in the first place. If it is important to you, make that passion clear in your promotions and instill that passion in everyone who hears about your race, making them much more likely to want to be a part of the cause!

That pretty well wraps up our blog for this week! Thank you all for reading and we hope you enjoyed this segment of A Race Director’s Guide: Taking Strides Towards your Best Race but more importantly, we hope you are able to draw some helpful pieces of information that you can implement in your race planning process!

As always, if you have ideas or suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in one of our posts, feel free to let us know at crossroadtimingmidwest@gmail.com! Thank you again for reading, and happy running!

Justin Kidwell

Timing Manager

Crossroads Events and Timing

You Don't Have to go at it Alone!

Event planning can be a stressful task, on the mind, body, and wallet. Race directing pros and amateurs alike can always use an extra set of hands when looking to put on the best race possible. That’s why it is important to remember that you don’t have to shoulder the stresses of race planning all by yourself. Partnering up with other companies in the race space such as timers, managers, and sponsors can really help to divvy out some of the responsibilities and allow you to focus solely on making sure your event goes off without a hitch! You may be surprised at the amount of organizations that are happy to contribute to your event, whether it be through supplies or even monetary contributions. Now, like most things in life, not everyone will be on board, but if you remain persistent and motivated, there is help out there! Ask around, and you may be surprised at the amount of community support that is all around you!

Asking for help may seem intimidating to some. It is common to feel like a nuisance when asking others to join your cause, but fear not. A good bit of advice from us here at Crossroads is to start with close to home. Look into what organizations are in your surrounding area, you will be surprised at what or who you may come across. If your event is planning to raise money for a cause, look for companies and organizations who’s goals line up with your own. Finding that sentimental connection with others is an easy way to gain their support! Many organizations are happy to contribute for something as simple as an advertising space at your race; banners, mentions at pre-race ceremonies, etc. Not only will you benefit from their help, but they will also gain notoriety and community recognition. It’s a win-win!

Moral of the story here is that whether this is your first ever race, or your 100th, you should never be afraid to ask other for help. It can really take your race from good to great! We here at Crossroads Events and Timing wish you the best of luck in all of your race planning to come and we hope that these simple tips and tricks can help you to propel your event to the next level!

As always, if you have any ideas or suggestions for topics you would like us to cover in one of our posts, feel free to let us know at crossroadstimingmidwest@gmail.com! Thank you for reading, and happy running!

Ethan Page,

President

Crossroads Events and Timing

Don't Be a Copycat

For veteran race directors and race directors to be, planning a new event can be a daunting task. Where should you start, what are the best practices, and how do you make your race sustainable for years to come? Welcome back to another edition of A Race Director’s Guide: Taking Strides Towards Your Best Race where we give you helpful tips and tricks that you may find useful as you plan your next big race!

The running industry is a forever growing business, there are hundred even thousands of new races being planned and implemented every year. So, it is safe to say that runners have a plethora of choices when it comes to picking which race they will be participating in next. The last thing you want is to become just another race amongst all the others, you want people to see your race and be excited to run in it. With that said, if you are planning a new event, standing out in the sea of others is crucial. Don’t get me wrong, if you have ever been to a race that was truly memorable for you and one that even you would sign up for again, it is never a bad idea to draw inspiration from others’ success and ideas. However, if you were to just try to recreate that race for yourself, odds are you may not be fully satisfied with the result in comparison. A great piece of advice is to take a look at the race market, look for what is popular and what interests the most people, then make it your own! Try adding some fun gimmicks and themes to your event that make it unique to you and your race. While a generic 5K is sure to attract runners from the surrounding area, the thing that will have athletes travelling far and wide is fun event that provides a memorable experience for everyone involved! Be as creative as you like, but do your research first!

Here are some great examples of races with that extra “flare” that keeps runners coming back year after year:

Circle City Donut Dash

Brat Trot and Beer Challenge 5K

Surviving the Color Run

While all of these races may seem like simple 5K events on the surface, each one offers a great deal of fun and an all-around unique experience for their athletes that makes them stand out over the rest. You don’t have to use donuts, beer, or the ever-popular color run format for your event but try thinking of new and exciting ideas that will peak runners’ interest and make them want to see what your race is all about!

This is just the first tip of many that we have for aspiring and avid race directors alike! Join us next time for tips on how to gain partners and sponsor support for your next event! We have some valuable resources and tricks of the trade that may help you in your journey to planning the best race possible!

As always, if you have any ideas or suggestions for topics you would like us to cover in one of our posts, feel free to let us know at crossroadstimingmidwest@gmail.com! Thank you for reading, and happy running!

Make it Personal!

Welcome back everyone for another week of A Race Directors Guide: Taking Strides Towards Your Best Race! Last week we covered the importance of registration and ways you as the race director can take a load off your shoulders and streamline your participant registration process. This week, we want to go over how much of an impact event personalization can have not only on your race numbers, but also in the hearts and minds of your athletes.

No one can argue that simply having your name printed on something can add a level of attachment to whatever it is that has your name on it. Why not apply this to your next event? There are many customization options that you as a race director can provide to your athletes, quite possibly the best, your race bibs! Luckily there are many great ways for you to spice up your race bibs which will not only benefit you and your race but will also provide your participants with a sense of personalization which will keep your race on their minds even after they cross the finish line and leave with their race timing results!

“Why personalize you racing bibs” you may ask? Well let’s look at some of the benefits that customized bib number can provide that generic ones cannot.

Sponsor Exposure

Customized race bibs give potential sponsors the perfect incentive to want to be involved in your event. With the ability to display not only your own organization on your new bibs, you have the ability to display sponsors right on your runner’s chests as well! This added value and exposure for your sponsors may increase the amount of sponsorship dollars they are willing to provide to your event and organization.

Coupons and Special Offers

You can provide incentives to your athletes by adding coupons or special offers which can be found directly on their bib numbers. Your participants will love that little added bonus to reward themselves for competing in your race! Not to mention, it will keep your race and organization on the top of their minds as they go to use their coupons even after they have finished running the course.

Give Your Athletes Something to Remember

Heart Throb Custom Bib.PNG
Heart Hero Custom Bib.PNG

All of these benefits for you are and your organization, but these personalized racing bibs also give your athletes something to cherish after leaving the course and returning home. By giving your runners the chance to add their name or a quirky quote they enjoy can really add some personal fun to the race. Many runners are sentimental when it comes to racing. Whether it be a 5K, a marathon, or a triathlon, they have worked hard in preparation to run their very best times, and what better gift than a memento like a customized race bib to take home with them to display and brag about their achievement. Not only will they love having it, but they will always remember the race they received it from, your race!

Save Money on Finisher Medals

While there really is no beating a tangible congratulatory medal for completing a race, in most cases, handing out a finisher medal to every single athlete that crosses the finish line simply doesn’t fit most budgets. But fret not! Sending your athletes home with a personalized race bib with their names, colorful displays, and the race name is a perfect “thank you for racing with us” gift that won’t break your bank!

Donut Dash Custom Bib.PNG

All of these customizable options can be available to you. You as the race director will benefit, your athletes will love it, and your race numbers will skyrocket by simply adding a personal factor to your race number bibs. Everyone who participates in your event will see that you care about them and want them to feel special as they compete in your race.

Wendell Foster Custom Bib.PNG

Here are just a few examples of some of the custom race bibs that Crossroads Events and Timing has created for some of our race directors! You can use them as inspiration for your next race or feel free to ask us for some help! Either way, you will love all of the benefits and payoffs that come with you new running bibs and your athletes will remember your events even after the last finishers crosses the line!

Happy Running!

Ethan Page,

President

Crossroads Events and Timing

Planning the Best Race with Crossroads

As a current or aspiring race director, you know all too well that many factors come into play while planning the perfect event before the starting horn even sounds. Luckily for you, Crossroads Events and Timing is here for you to provide you with the best and most effective race planning, management, and timing services available! In the posts to follow, we will walk you through step by step how to plan and execute the most memorable event as well as all of the race day services Crossroads can offer you!

The first and possibly the most important step in the early stages of any race is registration and visibility. Setting up your race on a well known registration site where it is simple and fun for registrants to sign up is crucial in a successful event! If no one can find your race or figure out how to register for your race, then your race day number may be less than desired. Here at Crossroads, we will take this process into our own hands and create an easy to find registration page for you so you can focus more on your actual race and less about obtaining registrations!

Crossroads partners with Itsyourrace.com, a fantastic race registry website where you can have total freedom in how your official race website looks, the information that is given, and better visibility and marketing materials as you prepare for the big day! The reason we use this registration service as well as why you should consider it as well is because it provides you with one central location that every athlete can easily find to not only register, but ask you questions, look at an interactive course map, donate to your organization, and even find their timing results following the race. This takes the hassle out of obtaining information about the race and provides an easy and enjoyable experience for you as well as your runners!

Along with set up and management of your registration page, Crossroads will handle all of the complicated registration data that comes through the website and we will process all of that information and put it into a simple and easy to understand list with everything you need for the day of the race. All of this great service comes included in our race timing services, so not only do you get the flawless and accurate timing service, but you also get a free website and registration page out of the deal! No more is the day of stressful number crunching and registration gathering, Crossroads Events and Timing will handle it all for you!

Stay tuned for more ways to take your event from 1 to 100 and all of the ways Crossroads can support you every step of the way! Next time we will talk about how to create the most memorable finish line that runners will be talking about after they cross the finish and will keep them coming back to your event for years to come!

Cheers!

Ethan Page

President

Crossroads Events and Timing

The Power of Promo Codes

Howdy Readers!

I hope all of you are having a great end to the week and are looking forward to a weekend of racing or relaxing! For this article in our race resources blog I wanted to speak to the power of promo codes and how race directors can use them to encourage early registration to help grow your race numbers!

All race directors should know that more early registrations means higher race day numbers. 1 + 1 = 2 math right? And if you can make the equation 2 + 1 you now have 3 right? However in our experience at Crossroads Events the equation looks more like this: (X * 2) + 1 =  ? Meaning the amount of early registrations looks more like a multiplier than a traditional add to your final number. In other terms if you can grow early registrations even by a small amount you can greatly increase your overall numbers!

Why is this you ask?

1. You help set goals for customers/participants. Once a participant has paid for an event even if that event is many months or weeks away they obviously are much more likely to attend even if race day weather or conditions are less than ideal which may possibly scare away last minute registrants.

2. People like to do events together. If you can draw 1 person in with an early promo code you can pretty much guarantee you actually drew in 2. Most people who sign up for events will share this promo code with friends and family or will encourage them to do the race with them as the event draws closer.

3. Participants like to attend well attended events. We all know people normally go with the trend or what is currently popular. If an event is popular it must be popular for a reason right? Yeah because you have an awesome race! By increasing early race numbers others who are interested in doing a race with a great experience will see that you have a popular event and are more likely to sign up!

Ok I Get It So How Can I Use Promo Codes To Increase My Race Numbers?

1. Provide an enticing promo code! - The possibilities are truly endless here! You can either do a certain percentage or dollar amount off for each registration or a newer promo type we like and will be trying ourselves over the next season is a rolling discount. For example the first 20 to use the promo code get 30% off, the next 20 get 20% off, the next 20 get 10% off etc.

2. Set a short amount of time to use the promo code. Usually we do 1 - 2 weeks. You must use the code within that amount of time to receive the discount which will encourage participants to quickly sign up.

3. Be prepared to advertise your promotion well! No one will use it if no once knows about it! Push this promo code through as many outlets as possible to reach your audience: email newsletters, social media, race partners/affiliates, etc.

4. Build your push dates around holidays and times of giving! We like to offer races and discounts to our customers to use as gifts or little surprises for their friends, family, and loved ones. So we generally push promo codes around Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, 4th of July, etc.

Sweet! How Can Crossroads Events Help Me Do This!

1. If you are using us for online registration and timing we will create as many unique codes for you as you would like!

2. If we are timing your event we are always happy to push your promo codes for you through our social media pages which have a strong following of athletes.

3. If we are managing your event we will not only push your promo code through social media but will also do several email newsletters advertising your code and will also consult with you to build a marketing plan on how you can push these codes to your own local audience.

I hope you have found this blog post informative and helpful! We know if you use these tips it will definately help you increase those race numbers! If you would like further information, help, or would like to work with Crossroads Events please just shoot us an email at: crossroadseventsandtiming@gmail.com

Cheers!

Ethan Page

President

Crossroads Events

Insuring There Are No Wrong Turns on Race Day

One of the greatest assets or downfalls of an event can be their course. Accurate and clearly marked routes will insure your participants travel the correct way and distance. In this blog we will go over what proper procedures to take to insure all athletes stay on route and happy!

One of the hardest aspects of events can be finding enough volunteers. Especially if you have a course that requires a lot of volunteers. When I started Crossroads Events I realized this became a constant issue for my events and my client's events so that is when I decided to begin what I call "directionally impaired proofing" your event. Meaning we mark our courses so incredibly clearly at every single possible turn or ambiguous section of the course that you would have to literally be blind to not go the correct way. We have seen that this helps to greatly reduce the amount of course volunteers needed on race day.

How do we do this? At every single turn or ambiguous pathway we clearly mark it 2 ways.

1. Ground Markings - Usually this means duct taped arrows since we can rip them up and leave no trace of our event being there. If it is a grass or dirt surface we will use spray paint or spray chalk.

2. Signs - To pair our ground markings we also place a chest level turn sign at every marked section so if the ground markings are not seen they would definitely see the sign. We have created a lot of chest level stands for our signs so they are clearly visible to participants.

It is also important to place these markings and signs in the direct middle of the path / route if possible and not off to the side to give your participants the greatest possible chance of viewing them. I personally like to say my participants will have to step on the markings and run over our signs before they could possibly go the wrong way.

As long as you've marked your course the proper way you will have vastly cut down on the amount of course volunteers needed. However it is always wise to have a couple volunteers placed at strategic locations on course for safety reasons, at aid stations, and at any area of the course that cannot be properly marked.

The last method you can put in place is to have a last minute course checker. This should be someone who knows your course in and out to run, bike, or drive your route right before the event begins to ensure there has not been any course vandalism to your signs, markings, or aid stations. Unfortunately on the rare occasion vandalism does happen and this is a last minute course check you can do to make sure you have set your route up for success!

If you follow these simple steps you should set your event up for an extremely well marked course which makes for happy athletes!

Ethan Page

President

Crossroads Events

 

Advertising My Event

The most frequent question we are asked is how can I better advertise and grow my race? Growing your race comes down to having a wonderfully executed event that leaves participant leaving with a fantastic experience. Afterwards and leading up to your race you need to tell the world about what an awesome event you've created!

In this post we will be giving you a general where and how to better advertise your race.

1. List your event on all and as many online race calendars as possible. The big ones are listed below.

  • Running in the USA (All races)
  • My Race Pal (All races)
  • Slow Twitch (triathlon specific)
  • Tri Find (triathlon specific)
  • Marathon Guide (Marathon / Half Marathons)
  • American Trail Running Association (Off Road Races)
  • USA Master Swimming (Swimming specific)

2. You should also list your race on as many community and local organization's websites as possible. Examples of where to find these are.

  • Your local t.v., newspaper, and radio station community calendars
  • Your local running club or triathlon club calendars
  • City or downtown specific calendars

3. You should also call all of your local radio and t.v. stations to see if you can come on for a local events segment to talk about your event approximately 1 - 2 weeks before your event. These are almost always free and a great way to advertise your event.

4. Get postcards and flyers made and drop them at similar locations in your community. You can order these and other race materials through Crossroads Events. We have created strong race partnerships so we can offer our clients fantastic products at unbeatable prices.

  • Local gyms
  • Running / workout stores
  • Local area business locations
  • Ask other local race directors if they would be willing to stuff your postcards in their race packets or display them at their race tables

5. Post heavily on your organization's social media pages about the event as soon as registration is live all the way up to the event.

6. Tap into our organization's email newsletter several times to send race information to all those who are already supporting your organization.

We hope this will be enough to get you started on better advertising your race and growing your race numbers!

Cheers!

Ethan Page