1. What do you think of a finishers medal that is an ornament?
Not a dumb ball, but like a medalian that you would hang on your tree.
Well not everyone believes in Christmas, you don’t want to offend anyone. Also, most of the medals I have received are very heavy. There’s no way they’d be able to hang on a tree.
2. What do you consider a “cool” shirt? Do you like or dislike the sponsors on back?
My favorite race shirts are the dri-fit, cool-max variety, not cotton. Not a big deal about the sponsors on the back to me.
3. How much do either of the above effect your decision to run a race?
The shirt and medal would not affect my decision to run a race at all. Usually you don’t get to see the t-shirt design before you finish anyway. I guess if I knew the shirt was cool-max or long sleeve (or long sleeve cool-max, like Whistle Stop), then I think that’s an added perk, but I’m not going to determine what MARATHON I run based on that. It may sway my decision when it comes to deciding which 5 or 10k to run. Also, the medals are nice, but not a big deal. If I could save $5-10 and not get a medal, I’d probably take that option.
4. How do you find your races?
I think a lot of runners find marathons through marathonguide.com. Ask about any marathon on any running forum and you’ll usually get a “check out marathonguide.com” response. Also, word of mouth is huge – that’s basically what marathonguide.com is, just word of mouth.
I’m not sure how far people travel for marathons. Being in MN, lots of people just run Gma’s and TCM and never have to venture out of MN. I think people around here tend to travel to the more prestigious marathons (Boston, NY, Chicago), warm weather marathons (Disney, Phoenix) in the winter, and probably even “fast” courses (Chicago, St. George, Houston) in search of BQs and PRs. This is just my hunch, not scientific study.
5. What is a big deciding factor to run the same race again?
How fast is the course? I’m there to run a fast time.
What’s the weather like? I don’t want to train for a race then have it 85 degrees on race day.
How big is the field? While I don’t mind a smaller race, I don’t want it to turn into a 20 mile solo run (unless I’m winning).
Is this a vacation destination? Now that I have a family, this is becoming more important.
6. Do you like or dislike when a finishers medal lists ALL races on it (ie, marathon, 1/2 marathon, 10K)?
Whistle Stop uses the same shirts (and I think medals too) for both marathon and half marathon finishers. It’s kind of lame, but not a big deal. I realize this is a very small race and they are trying to keep costs down. Now if Boston held a Half and a 10k and started handing out the same shirt to everyone, I’d be pissed.
7. Should all races get a finishers medal or just the marathoners?
Doesn’t really matter to me, but it seems silly to give medals for 10k finishers and even half finishers.
Please tell me if there is something a race has/hasn’t done that you would loved/hated. I want to make this an excellent race, and need your input to do it.
I’ve only run 4 different marathons, Gma’s, Twin Cities, Boston and Whistle Stop. I grew up near Gma’s and used to watch the race in the early 80s when my dad ran it. It’s such a great atmosphere with “everyone” coming out to support the race, the location, the course, the post race party, etc. It’s hard to beat. I live in the Twin Cities now, so TCM is very convenient logistically. Plus it’s “the most beautiful urban marathon in the US.” Boston has the prestige with the history, qualifying standards, course, etc. Whistle Stop is in my hometown, so that’s one of the main reasons I ran it. It’s drastically different than the other races with only a few hundred finishers. Since your race sounds a lot like Whistle Stop I talk about that a little.
Whistle Stop also has a half marathon and a 10k. While I think it’s nice to give people some options, I’d lean more towards marathon, half and 5k. With the 10k you are probably “stealing” runners from the half. Someone out there is probably thinking, “I could probably run the half, but I’m not sure. I’ll just do the 10k.” That’s fine, but if they do the half this year, it might make them consider the full next year. Also, if you truly want to get the whole family involved, kids are more likely to run a 5k than a 10k. Also, recreational joggers are probably more inclined to do a 5k than a 10k.
Here are some random thoughts. Mile markers MUST BE accurate for all races. With all the measuring devices out there now, there’s no excuse. Heck, get the courses certified. I know runners that won’t run a race unless it’s certified. Serve a sports drink that runners like, like Gatorade or Powerade, not what you get for free like Ultima. It should be something that runners can train with, not some obscure drink that they can’t find anywhere. Make sure your volunteers know what they are serving. Whistle Stop kept calling their Powerade, All-Sport. Well, All-Sport is carbonated and can make a huge difference. Also, one volunteer told me she had water right after I put a gel in my mouth, then she handed me Powerade. Have your aid stations where they say they’ll be in your race packet. Whistle Stop says something like “every 2 miles”. However, the course is run on an old railroad bed with few access roads. So aid stations tended to be near access roads, not necessarily 2 miles apart. Make sure your volunteers are educated on their duties. A few years ago I went to watch Whistle Stop and here comes the half marathon winner in ~1:03, instead of the usual 1:12. It turns out the lead bike took a wrong turn and cut about 2 miles off the course. Totally unacceptable.
Finally, don’t try to do everything you’ve ever seen at any race you’ve been to. Pick a few things you really like and are the most important and focus on them.
I’m sure I’ll have some more thoughts, but I’ll start with those.