|Organising a Running Event ? Or going for one?
Running is picking up steam in India, with marathons and other runs being organised in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and... Several shorter neighbourhood runs are also being organised.
I have run across 6 continents and run in 41 marathons including Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai, but have been disappointed with many of the arrangements by the organisers. More so because the enthusiastic first timer gets put off. A few running tips for organisers of major running events, and also for participants of what to expect and what to demand of the organisers are listed below. Smallers events could use most of these basic tips too.
Make sure it's planned and executed as a world class running event else do not do it!
Its always best to have a non elite runner, who has participated in a few runs, to be part of the event management team as then the issues faced by the majority, can be appreciated, and the details, better planned. Should definitely have someone from amongst the organisers, run in the event too, and get 1st hand feedback for improvement over the entire process.
Heavy publicity is required, and that too, 3-6 months prior to the event - it's an event for the whole city and not just for a few runners. A marathon or half marathon requires a lot of training on the part of the runners and requires double the time of the organisers planning all the micro details; definitely not something that can be planned for in a couple of months. Give the event and the participants the respect they deserve.
Provide information on basic running shoes and gear . Runners World magazine is a great resource and the online version can be accessed Need a good website. The Chicago marathon website is one of the best that I have seen Provide information, running schedules, information on running shoes and running tips for the beginner runner, route maps with inclines, water stops, energy drink stops, spectator and cheering squad stands and locations, expected weather..... This should also have on-line registration and credit card payment facilities, with a swift response to questions posted on-line.
Have the longer runs start early - 7am or even 6am. 5 and 10k runs can start around 8am but not later.
Provide timely and accurate registration confirmations.
Proper organisation and signage on where to pick up what. Plan for the crowds and do not herd runners around like cattle and expect them to stand in several lines for several hours. This is the time when runners need to rest.
Have a few maps of the pre race expo layout at several places for reference of the organisers and the visitors.
Have as many running and health related companies participate - I have been to an pre race expo with a real estate company participating. Give the runners a break!
Hand out extra running route maps with details on road closures and which roads to use, where to park, and how to arrive at the start on Race Day. Also hand out items to cheer with, charts to make cheering slogans on.....
Have a booth where participants can meet with an Indian runner and get an autograph Posters, key chains, T shirts and other promotional items in the goodie bag for each runner
Traffic maps of roadblocks must be provided to runners, be up on the website, and run in press ads. Definitely need to include routes that should be used. I have often found over zealous traffic police personnel telling people that the road is closed, but not letting them know, which road to use.
Signage at the start and finish area is critical and this is where ALL events that I have participated in so far, in Delhi and Mumbai, have messed up. Holding area, start line, water, toilets...
Toilets are a big problem in India. Need to plan for one toilet per 50 runners at the start, and a few every 2 miles along the way. These toilets MUST be clean and have toilet paper or running water or both, and some light (since many of these will be visited before sunrise - at the start point). A few stand alone portable toilets in Mumbai have been fantastic, but the 8-10 cubicle 'mobile' toilets in Delhi have been a disaster!
Have a megaphone for announcements, a proper start and finish line with chip mats, crowd control barricades, starting gun. I have run in the 2006 Delhi marathon where there was no finish line and mat!
Ensure proper holding areas pre start
During the race:
Mile or km markers with digital display clocks
No changing of the route for whatever reason on race day as this can upset the runner's orientation and planning
Traffic must be managed well. I have had to run along with traffic on occasion!
Signage along the running route must be clear and in abundance, especially at traffic junctions
Water and energy drink points must be manned and stocked till the last runner passes the point. I have been at mile 24 (39th km) in a marathon with no water at a water stop!
Medical stations should be placed along the route, along with a few mobile units.
The organisers and crowd management teams must be acutely aware that the event is over when the last runner crosses the finish line and not when the 1st runner crosses the line. At the 1st Mumbai marathon I have had to wade through a crowd of dream run participants and others, just to cross the finish line.
Professional digital photographers along the route and at the finish line and beyond, so that runners photos can be uploaded to the event website and ordered on line. Click here
Finishers should be given their medals (where eligible) at the finish line and NOT later on
Certificates with the runners timings should be posted in a timely manner
Announcements, bands, cheering squads... at several points along the route add to the festivity and involvement of the city, apart from providing much needed encouragement to the runners expecially at the finish line
Result should be put up on the website the next day
There are some races – very few, where there is some post race analysis which adds to the fun and entertainment of the race, enables runners to relive the race with their friends, and for the more serious or introspective runner, also enables post race analysis to see how he/she may be able to improve in the next race. Check out what we believe is the best in the business – Zum Run – which was developed in the US and used by us in our first full marathon in Gurgaon – this was the first time that Zum Run was being tested.
Check out some details at http://www.zumtri.com/races
Try them at your next race – contact them directly or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are anywhere in Asia, and we will help you bring great value to your runners, sponsors and to your event.
These are just a few of the basics - if you want to know more and discuss anything at all for a small or a large event, contact us at email@example.com we would be happy to be of any assistance or provide any information you may need.
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