Race director wants your help.

Welcome! Forums Running Forum Race director wants your help.

This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Runnin Rat 15 years, 4 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #1135

    Runnin Rat
    Member

    I am the new race director for the Valley of Fire Marathon here in Southern Nevada. I have run several races and know what I like in a race, but I am quickly finding that my opinion is very different from other runners. Would you guys mind helping me out? If so, here are some questions I have, if you have other ideas for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

    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.

    2. What do you consider a “cool” shirt? Do you like or dislike the sponsors on back?

    3. How much do either of the above effect your decision to run a race?

    4. How do you find your races?

    5. What is a big deciding factor to run the same race again?

    6. Do you like or dislike when a finishers medal lists ALL races on it (ie, marathon, 1/2 marathon, 10K)?

    7. Should all races get a finishers medal or just the marathoners?

    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.

    Thank you for you help!

  • #13125

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I believe I’ve already answered these questions on another forum but I guess this is your chance to see how consistent my answers are…

    1. I don’t know if I’d put it on my tree but it might be neat, something different at least. Many runners already have so many medals that they just end up getting thrown in a drawer. Having something different is kind of nice.

    2. Shirts aren’t that big of a deal to me. I guess I prefer shirts without sponsor logos all over them but I also understand that sponsors pay more to have their logos on the shirts. If having sponsor logos results in lower entry fees, I’m a fan of having logos all over the place.

    3. They don’t really. It’s more about how well the race is organized and how they treat the competitive runners.

    4. Mostly through word of mouth. I’ll occasionally check online race calendars but, if it’s a key race like a marathon would be, I would want to hear from other competitors that the race takes good care of the competitive runners.

    5. How well my racing experience was. Did the race give me the best possible opportunity to run well? For long races, were aid stations prepared when the leaders went through? Could the aid station workers keep up with the traffic of the runners? Was traffic control in place when the leaders went through? Was the course well marked and were the runners well directed? Things like this.

    6. Finishers medals don’t make a big difference to me but I’m not sure I understand the need for finishers medals for a half marathon or 10k in the first place.

    7. I guess I just answered this one.

    Here’s a race director’s guide that you may find useful for the logistics of directing a race: https://www.usaldr.org/

  • #13126

    Zeke
    Member

    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.

  • #13127

    Runnin Rat
    Member

    Thanks you two. Yes, I have posted these same questions on Runner’s World and got a great response from them, so I thought I would try your board as well. Thanks for answering anyway!

    Being rather new at this, I am trying to get a good feel of other runners. I need sponsors so I can afford to go a good race, but don’t want the sponsors to take it over either. They seem to have their own ideas of what is good, so, if I can show them what runner tell me, they are listen better than if they think a little house wife is telling them these things.

    😉

    Thanks again guys!

    Zeke, the weather here is great in November, but we have had high winds every year they have done this race. It is not likely for someone to PR on this course either, a lot of hard hills, but most people like the challenge if they are aware before hand. It is also located at the north end of Lake Mead if that helps people back east understand where this is at.

  • #13128

    Zeke
    Member

    Obviously, this site isn’t as big as RW.com. But check back throughout the week and you should have some more responses from guys in the 2:40-3:10 range.

    but we have had high winds every year they have done this race.

    . Well DON’T mention that on your website. 😆 I take it this race already exists and you are just talking over RD duties?

    It is not likely for someone to PR on this course either, a lot of hard hills, but most people like the challenge if they are aware before hand.

    Yeah, not every course has to be a PR course. Like you said, make sure entrants are aware of the hills prior to signing up. A course profile graph on the website or entry form would be a huge plus.

    It is also located at the north end of Lake Mead if that helps people back east understand where this is at.

    Does that mean that people could make Vegas part of their trip?

  • #13129

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    A few more comments based on what has been said.

    First, Zeke is right. Make sure your mile markers are right and get the course certified. I don’t know why anyone would put all the work into preparing for a marathon and then not choose a certified one.

    Second, I alluded to something that Zeke very specifically pointed out. The course must be well marked and the people guiding the runners must know where the race goes. If you sense any possibility of uncertainty, remove it. I can tell you there’s no worse feeling than leading a race and wondering if you’re going the right way. I would be very upset if I was led off course in a marathon. I would be very vocal against that marathon probably for the rest of my life. When one works so hard to prepare for a marathon, it is completely unacceptable for their race to be ruined by getting led off course.

    Third, something you stated. Your course is difficult. It does not sound like a race that people looking for a PR would go to. Be up front about this. Advertise it as a challenge. You won’t get runners who are looking for PRs but you will still get runners. Everything else still applies, though. No matter how difficult the course that I’m running on is, I want everything to be handled in a way that allows me to have my best performance. If I’m handing over my hard earned money for a race, that is my expectation. I highly doubt I’m alone on this.

  • #13130

    Zeke
    Member

    I just checked out your website and here are some thoughts.

    Cool logo.

    $40-50 for a marathon is reasonable. $30-40 for a half is getting high. $25-35 for a 10k is out of the question.

    I found the topo map to be very confusing – probably because I’ve never read maps like that. I’d rather just have a profile view.

    DON’T duplicate awards, meaning if you give awards to the top-3 finishers, those 3 people should be excluded from age group awards.

    Speaking of age groups, I’d go with < 19, 20-29, etc. 13-18 and 19-29 are not "standard".

    While marathonguide.com has the results in an easy-to-read format, your site is a little confusing. You have marathon, half, and 10k all on the same link. You don’t list finish times (kind of important) and you don’t list overall place. Some of the stuff you do list is not as important, like race # and exact age.

    With ~30 finishers, is it cost effective to have medals made?

    Finally, Whistle Stop sent out a electronic survey after the race. If you really want to get useful feedback, what better way than to ask the people that ran the race?

  • #13131

    Zeke
    Member
    Zeke wrote:
    I just checked out your website and here are some thoughts.

    Cool logo.

    $40-50 for a marathon is reasonable. $30-40 for a half is getting high. $25-35 for a 10k is out of the question.

    I found the topo map to be very confusing – probably because I’ve never read maps like that. I’d rather just have a profile view.

    DON’T duplicate awards, meaning if you give awards to the top-3 finishers, those 3 people should be excluded from age group awards.

    Speaking of age groups, I’d go with < 19, 20-29, etc. 13-18 and 19-29 are not "standard". In the 10k and half I'd probably even go something like < 14, 15-19, etc. I hate the "everyone has to be a winner" mentality I see in a lot of places, but it's not really "fair" for a 13 year old to be lumped with an 18 or 19 year old. So if you're going to break up the < 20 runners, make it a little more even. If not, you might as well just go with < 19.

    While marathonguide.com has the results in an easy-to-read format, your site is a little confusing. You have marathon, half, and 10k all on the same link. You don’t list finish times (kind of important) and you don’t list overall place. Some of the stuff you do list is not as important, like race # and exact age.

    With ~30 finishers, is it cost effective to have medals made?

    Finally, Whistle Stop sent out a electronic survey after the race. If you really want to get useful feedback, what better way than to ask the people that ran the race?

  • #13132

    Zeke
    Member

    I meant to edit myself, not quote myself. Hmm, is it even possible to quote yourself?

  • #13133

    peace467
    Member

    There are two things I want which are sadly lacking in many races.

    1. An accurately measured course. Better yet, have it certified.

    2. Mile splits that are accurate.

    That’s it. Shirts, medals, food and drink, post race party, awards and everything else matters very little to me. I train hard, put in significant time and effort, and the $4-$50 is an insignificant part of the cost that I’ve put into the event. The real cost has been paid in sweat. The real measurement for me is time, how have I done compared to my other races? It’s extremely frustrating to work so hard and then find out that the course is inaccurate. It’s also nice feedback as to how you are doing when you’ve got mile markers lettting you know what pace you are running.

  • #13134

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    peace467 wrote:
    1. An accurately measured course. Better yet, have it certified.

    Best yet, certified and accurate. I’ve run on at least one “certified” course at a race that was heavily promoting that it was on a certified course where they didn’t set up the course properly and that caused the distance to be inaccurate. Certification means nothing if the course is not set up right on race day.

  • #13135

    Runnin Rat
    Member

    Zeke and Ryan, this is some of the most helpful responds I have had yet.

    This race has been going for about 5 years. I helped organize it in 25 days last year. I will never do anything like that again! It was awful! I was not proud of the work I did and cringed every time a runner said they wanted to talk to the person who organized it. I don’t want that this year. I told the previous director I either take it over completely or I am completely out. I was not trying to be controlling, she just didn’t live here, didn’t come down till the day before the race and had nothing at all orgainized. One of the runners actually helped her while I was cleaning up another mess she made.

    So there you have, that is how I got this race. I have changed a few things on the web page, not a lot. I don’t care for the topozone map either, but left it there till I can figure out how to course map. Same with the race results, that was a nightmare I won’t go into. I am hoping to be able to use one of the timing companies out here, then I won’t have to worry about it, it will be handled for me. It comes down to money though.

    About Vegas, yes, this race is about 40 minutes north of Vegas. As a matter of fact, if people are flying in, they would come in to Vegas airport. If people don’t like the huge city, they can stay in Mesquite, that is only 20 minutes from here, 60 minutes from Vegas. Still has the casinos, spas, etc. just a bit smaller town feel to it.

    Did I notify enought in other places that this is difficult? The previous director said it was a moderate course, but there a ton of hills, one guy reported he runs around 7 minute miles, but up one hill it took him down to a 10+ minute mile. He loved the course, but said he wished he had been better prepared for the hills.

    As for the runners from this past year. I want to send out a questionaire, but have had a difficult time getting the addresses from the previous director, so I am trying to do it this way, unless you have a better idea, I am up for suggestions!

    Ok guys, keep it coming, rip my web page apart! That is the only way I will make this race a success. FEEDBACK!

    You can also visit my personal web page, http://www.mvdsl.com/~adeakins/ don’t be too critical of that one though 😉 That’s my family your talking about there!!

  • #13136

    Zeke
    Member

    I told the previous director I either take it over completely or I am completely out.

    Smart move.

    Same with the race results, that was a nightmare I won’t go into.

    Well, they looked good on marathonguide.com, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get them onto your site. If nothing else, direct them to the marathonguide.com link. I was also thinking, it’s nice to have previous year’s results on the website.

    About Vegas, yes, this race is about 40 minutes north of Vegas.

    Maybe you can use this as a marketing point. People can run the race and hang out in Vegas. Also, since this is not a PR course you’re probably going to have to market it differently. Focus on the awesome scenery. I like the photos on the site. How many marathons are in NV? There’s always those people looking to run a ‘thon in each state. Also, what percentage of your runners took home awards. I believe it’s pretty high. That’ll appeal to some people too.

    Did I notify enough in other places that this is difficult? The previous director said it was a moderate course, but there a ton of hills, one guy reported he runs around 7 minute miles, but up one hill it took him down to a 10+ minute mile. He loved the course, but said he wished he had been better prepared for the hills.

    This is where a simple line graph of the topography would help out tremendously.

    As for the runners from this past year. I want to send out a questionaire, but have had a difficult time getting the addresses from the previous director, so I am trying to do it this way, unless you have a better idea, I am up for suggestions!

    A couple of thoughts. Throw the questionaire in with the race packet (with a self-addressed stamped envelope). Ask for an email addresses on the entry form. Make sure that they know you’ll only use it to send out a questionaire, race results, etc and that you won’t sell their address.

    Instead of medals, what about something unique to the area? The rocks in the photos look cool, maybe something can be done with them, instead of a medal.

  • #13137

    Runnin Rat
    Member
    “Zeke wrote:
    Instead of medals, what about something unique to the area? The rocks in the photos look cool, maybe something can be done with them, instead of a medal.

    St. George’s medal is awesome. It is kinda like a sand dollar, using the red rocks. I love that idea, but don’t want to totally copy their idea. If you want to see what that one looks like, there is a picture of the one from 2002 at the bottom of this link. https://web.archive.org/web/20040710131509/http://www.mvdsl.com:80/~adeakins/St.%20George%20Marathon.htm

    As for people taking home awards, it was almost over kill this past year! I ran the 10K, and recieved 2nd overall and 1st in my division, plus a marathon medal that I didn’t earn. I am hoping by publishing it early I will get a lot more runners to it.

    As for marathons in Nevada, there are some, but mostly on Sunday. There are a lot of people who preferred to not run a Sunday races, including me. There are not very many Saturday races.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.