Friday, December 4, 2015

Dear Race Director

Running, Races, Runner's Wish List

How many of you have participated in an organized running event? Be it 5K, marathon, 50K-- anything. 

Have you ever left one of those races ready to declare your love and loyalty to that race because they did something right that you haven't found elsewhere? Or maybe you've experienced the opposite. A few miles into the race, you already know you'll never be back.

Nick and I have run a lot of different races, of varying distances. We've seen good things, stellar things {champagne and cupcakes at the top of Peakwood, um yes please}, annoying things, and things that will cause us to never return.

After our most recent race, Marine Corps Marathon, we spent much of the car ride home brainstorming what we would do differently if we were in charge. It was a fun conversation and led to this collaborative 'Dear Race Director' post.

Dear Race Director,

After running quite a few race, anywhere from 5K to 50K and everything in between, as well as large and small races, I've decided to detail the attributes that would contribute to my dream race. 

In no particular order!

Shirts

Race shirts should be optional, and the price should reflect that. For example, if the cost is $100 with a shirt, a 'no-shirt' option should be available for $90.

Race shirts also need to fit. Female runners, specifically, tend to run into this problem. We are not one-size-fits-all, and we do not all resemble an Olympic runner. After running four marathons, I have one shirt that actually fits me. One is way too small, another is way too large and the third barely reaches my waist-- and the funny part is they are all the same size! Disappointing for me and unfortunate for you because now you'll loose free publicity. Oh, and I'll be telling all my female friends how terrible the shirts are. It matters to us {Myrtle Beach, Philadelphia & Wineglass-- I'm looking at you}. 

It would be helpful to the runners if more information on the shirt sizing was available at registration. Think like Amazon.

Security

Security is important. Period. Security must be planned such that it is continuous throughout the event, and transparent to the experience. MCM 2015 security was a disaster, and as a result-- instead of loosely checking 100% of the people, approximately 20% of the people were thoroughly checked and 80% of the people pushed, shoved and ran past security when the race started without security checks complete.

Race Course

Every course should be slightly different and unique to the race. I shouldn't run the same course for Nike Women's Half DC, Army 10-Miler and Rock n Roll DC. It's really neat when you can say, 'you know the hill at the end of MCM', and everyone knows what you're talking about?

Crowding

Spectators are great. But there needs to be some rules, and they need to be enforced. A lot races have become very large and viewed by a lot of spectators. MCM had crowd support the entire course. While their support is appreciate, they need to stay off the course. Spectators creeping into the roadways take an already narrow passage for hundreds of runners and make it even smaller. Race courses naturally lend themselves to choke points. Spectators do not need to be another cause. 

Food

Nick and I are both big into race food, and would gladly pay more for the right type of food. Past a half marathon the food needs to be more substantial, almost meal-like. 

Nick has run the Catoctin 50K the last four years and their food is the best! On the course he has eaten pierogies, PB&J, watermelon, all kinds of fruit, soda, grapes, gummies and a host of other things. After the race a full meal was available to runners and their family. Individually, all these items are relatively cheap compared to a $100 race {Catoctin 50K is only $40, btw} and many runners would pay more if they knew it went to the food. 

Other examples of races that have done phenomenal with food {both on-course and post-race} are Dahlgren Trail Half, Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Half, Blue Ridge Half/Full and Wineglass Half/Full. 

Items like Gu can probably be dropped from the race completely as almost everyone can carry their own. Provide things we can't carry. A post race meal is also a necessity for half marathon distances and longer.

It is also necessary to make sure there is enough food for all the runners who sign up. There needs to be a system to ensure everyone gets a fair amount, without taking someone else's portion. Pike's Peak Ascent did a great job at this! We had a full post race meal, but your hand got stamped when you went through so you couldn't come back for seconds. I heard of too many runners at MCM not getting any food when they finish. That is just sad. I'm a middle of the pack runner, and I have even experienced races where Nick will have finished quickly and received much different selection of food than me. 

Volunteers

They are SO important to the race. Races wouldn't be able to run {no pun intended!} without them. Make it fun for the volunteers. During the SMECO 75-mile organized bike event there was a competition to have the best aid station. We have never eaten soo well at an athletic event. Invite the volunteers to participate in all the events {pre-race dinners, talks, expo, post-race meal, etc} free of charge {covered by the runners or sponsors}.

Timeliness

Starting on time, and following a schedule should come above almost all other aspects of the race. People warm up, stretch, book flights home, eat on a schedule, go to the bathroom on a schedule, etc. If the race start is delayed, for any reason, people are going to be mad

Two quick examples-- Last year the Wineglass races were delayed 30+ minutes because they made a huge change {all runners must be bused to the start} and were not prepared. This past May at the Annapolis ZOOMA half marathon, the race started exactly on time even though there were probably 100+ women still waiting in line to use the port-o-potty.

These few changes would take your event to the next level. Who wouldn't want that? 

Sincerely,
Amanda & Nick
Running Enthusiasts

"A runner's #wishlist. What would you change if you were in charge?#runchat #sweatpink"

That was fun :) Some of these changes would be pretty straight forward to implement, others would take some critical thinking. 

You can't please everyone, and I'm sure each of you has your own list of things that would make an ideal race. But a girl can dream!

Your turn! Have you ever spent time thinking about how you would do things if you were in charge? Do any of these topics resonate with you?

♥AK