It's not exactly the ideal time to become a race director (although the Eco Challenge has certainly helped with awareness), but I'm creating a toolbox to make it easier for someone to put on their first race, focused on navigation races but applicable to any outdoor event - things like forming an LLC, liability insurance, marketing tactics, typical expenses, financial risk, course design, maps/printing, where to buy controls/flags, scoring options, clinic resources, etc. It may end up on USARA or ARCoop as a free resource. My question is what are the primary barriers to becoming a race director (post COVID)? Things like lack of time, lack of money/demand relative to the time required (i.e., if it were more lucrative, would that make the time required much less of a barrier?), lack of knowledge of how to create a race, etc. Thanks for any input.
HONESTLY...the hardest thing for me as an RD is getting the shirt sizing correct, and dealing with racers who don't want the size they ordered and want to trade, but not wanting to order too many extra shirts.
as a work-around i've ordered one-size-fits-all items the last two years (buffs and hats, both from Barking Frogs). but, ultimately, the shirt of any form is the "gold standard" and you can't avoid them forever.
Hi Mark I think this is a great initiative! A few thoughts for me that would certainly be good learning:
- Financials: it doesn't have to be something that makes you rich, but does the average race break even, what is the type of profit %?
- Location: how to pick a location, how to get permission to use the different types of land, private, gov owned/public
- Offering/Timing: there is a real community around AR and any new race I hope would find a way to be a new product offering or timing and not cannibalize from existing events
- Core Skills Required: How much race volunteering work should you do in advance, what other leadership/management skills do you think you need
- Volunteer Staff: How to recruit, engage, how to say thank you beyond just an opening verbal thanks at the race briefing
Hope that helps from someone that dreams about maybe one day in the semi-distant future hosting a race!
FYI: shameless plug for my friends’ book directed at race directors, as they are multi-sport event organizers in California:
“The All Out Events Guide to Great Sporting Events: from 5k to 500k, the complete guide to starting and running a successful and profitable outdoor, human powered event.”
By Kristin and Yishai Horowitz, of All Out Events.
Do I need to permit roads?
That and needing volunteers is probably my biggest hurdle in going from rogaines which are relatively easy since it's just a big o meet to a more involved AR (assuming one's park can't fit the whole AR in).
Apologies. I forgot to return to this discussion.
R-B: Financials vary greatly by race and region I think. The good news is that your expenses will not be very high. Invest in controls/flags and punches, simple but professional website, a few $ for Facebook ads. Borrow things like tables and canopies. Most of your expenses can be built into the entry fee - shirts, food, canoe rentals. For me, I added trail running races and bike races to 3 adventure races so that I could quit my corporate job and go full time.
Location: Near large population centers is important to draw larger numbers. I try to hold my events near or in county or state parks, often off-season when permits can be more easily obtained. My Silver Lake and Ludington races draw 400+ each because they are popular tourist areas in Michigan.
Race volunteering work certainly helps. Ask RDs on the Facebook forums too. We give our volunteers the race shirt, post-race meal and a $ credit toward a future race. For some races where volunteers are hard to get, we offer $10-15/hr toward the charity partner of the race and will pay racers cash as last resort.
Silky Chrome: as for shirt sizing, once I find a good shirt, I stick with it so at least those who raced before know the sizing. I also request a sizing chart from the shirt provider and provide that to racers on the website. I allow racers to exchange shirts only after check-in. I order about 10% extra shirts as buffer. I found a screenprinter who will get the shirts the Monday of race week and screen them during the week so I know how many I need within a few shirts.
Mr. Wonderful: the only roads I've ever had to permit are U.S. Forest Service. No permit needed for county/state roads since a bicycle is treated as a car, no limits to usage. I give road commissions a heads up of the race in case of grading, closures, emergencies. As for volunteers - you can ask me and I'll ask my vol team if you need some.