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Over the years, we've gathered together a few tips to do with organizing a race. This isn't to say that we know everything. We just hope this information can provide a starting point for those about to run their first race as well as provide some fresh ideas for those who've been doing it for years.
Entry forms Finish Line Data entry Recording the results Race venue Results Race course Prize giving Volunteers After the race
- Get them out early. Give your racers lots of time to get them in.
- If you can, don't allow entry on the day. Make sure everyone sends in their entry at least a week before the race. You'll reduce your race day workload and get your cash earlier.
- Give clear concise directions. And get out there and try them yourselves. What you think is clear, may not be to someone that's driving in from out of town. And it's those people that you really want coming to your race.
- The most important thing is to get your data entered accurately. Make sure you have a second person compare the data to the original entry form.
- When it comes to your computers, the ideal situation is mains electricity with a good filter, preferably a UPS.
- I recommend having a generator standing by in case the power goes off. Make sure it runs and you know how to start it. If you know how long your UPS will last, you know how long you have to start that generator.
- But be warned. Generators can and will kill computers. They provide a very very rough source of power. Make sure you have a high quality power filter. We use a Satisfaction from International Power Technologies between the generator and the UPS (I-800 also from IPT).
- Put signs up from the nearest main road. Make sure your racers get there. Everything you do to help them get there will be appreciated. And it'll mean more money for you.
- There's nothing like the pre-race jitters to make people head for the nearest bush for a call of nature. Your land manager won't like that. And neither will the people that are there after you. So make sure there's lots of toilet facilities for your crowd. If necessary, bring in some portable toilets.
- Toilet paper. Lots of it. It's cheap. And you can store it for next year if you have too much. If you run out, it will be remembered and that's not what you want your race to be noted for!
- Think seriously about assigning some of your volunteers to take car of the car parking. Direct the racers to where they should be. Make sure that traffic will not be obstructed and that no cars are blocked in.
- The relationship you develop with your land manager and the locals is very important. If they get upset, you might not be back. Make sure you keep the communication with them flowing and informative. Invite them to the race and race parties. Send them all the information you can. Send them thank you notes after the race and emphasize how much fun everyone had and how successful the event was.
- Have first aid experts on site. Make sure the local emergency services know that you're having a race. It often helps them to know what they might be dealing with on the day.
- In case of bad weather, make sure you have shelter for your timekeepers and the crowd.
The race course
- Clear signpost are a must. Getting people lost is not a good way to run a race.
- Don't use paint.
- Don't nail or staple signs to anything.
- Use stakes with signs attached to them.
- Make sure you know how many people started and how many people finished. You don't want people left out on the course.
- Get someone to act as Tail End Charlie to sweep the course for any rubbish, injured racers, or break downs.
- Have course marshals around the course to direct people, report injuries, and take charge should the need arise.
- You can't run a race without them. Make sure they know what they are expected to do and how.
- Give them free t-shirts and food. Unless you reward good worker, you won't get them back again. People like to be appreciated. You would not be able to do the race without them. Make sure they know they are wanted and needed. Tell them that!
- You should learn from your mistakes. Throw a post-race dinner a few days after the race to get everyone together to talk about what went well and what didn't. Take notes and use them for planning your next event.
- You should not underestimate the value of a well designed finish area. The crowd, the timekeepers, and the race announcers should be able to see the finish line.
- Give the timekeepers a good place to work. Keep others away from them. Don't have loudspeakers blasting in their ears.
- Keep the area after the finish line free of congestion. Assign people to remove race numbers and quickly move people on.
- Make sure your timekeepers have cover, both from the sun and from the weather. A trailer is great to house the computer equipment but make sure there's plenty of room. I've found that the best trailers are basically an empty shell into which we can place tables where we need them. It can get hot in there, so a fan or two will not go astray.
- The best position for your timekeepers is before the finish line. Make the riders go past the timekeepers and the over the finish line. You'll want your announcers and trailer in the same place.
- Make sure you have a chair for each timekeeper.
Recording the results
- It's important to keep manual results. That means pen and paper. We recommend using three pairs of manual timekeepers and one pair using the computer.
- For the manual timekeepers, one person of each pair reads the bib number and the other writes it down. When the writer has time, they check their watch, and write down the times.
- The priority of the manual timekeepers is to capture the bib numbers. Then, if they can, get the times. But it's more important for them to get those bib numbers correctly!
- The timekeepers on the computer are there to capture the times. That's their priority. If they have time, they can also capture race numbers.
- We also use The Racing System (no surprises there!) to do the computer results.
- At our races, we use the networked version of the software. We have a database server and several laptops. One laptop sits at the finish line and is used to record finish times. In the back room, several people check the manual results against the computer results. This was the tactic we used at the 1997 World Cup race held here in Wellington, New Zealand.
- Make sure the results are correct the first time
- After the first few people have finished, get the interim results printed and posted in a place where everyone can see them.
- Get the results posted to the Internet the same day (if you are planning to do that).
- Don't make people wait hours for their results. Print them out often and on a regular basis as the racers keep coming in.
- Correct any mistakes cheerfully. Apologise and make a note about how the mistake occurred so you include it in the post-race review.
- Keep a book into which you record all errors, DNFs, DNSs, etc. You will need it after the race.
- Don't get angry with the racers if they're asking about results. Be polite and direct them to where the results will be posted.
- Assign volunteers as minders to keep the racers away from the timekeepers. They have enough to do without having to field questions. This will save you lots of grief.
- Get copies of the result out to the local bike shops the next business day.
- Mail every racer a copy of the results. They paid for it. They deserve to know.
- Keep it short and sweet. Don't let it drag on.
- Remember to award spots prizes (random prize based on drawing the race numbers out of a box).
- If someone has accomplished something quite spectacular (e.g. done the whole course on a fixed gear bike), then remember to award them a prize.
After the race
- Remove all course markings.
- Remove all rubbish. Leave the place cleaner than you found it.
- Send thank you notes to the land manager and your locals. You need them.
- Thank your volunteers. If you have a website, express your appreciation by devoting a section to naming and thanking your volunteers for their help.
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