After planning and organizing a road race for charity, it is important to have a plan of action on race day. This guide will help any race director execute the perfect 5K race and keep runners coming back year after year!
Arrive at the race site early with volunteers to set up. Many runners will wait until the day of the race to register or to pick up their running packets, t-shirts, or race numbers. Runners should begin to arrive approximately an hour before race time. Short distance races, such as a 5k, might see runners arriving as little as 15 minutes beforehand.
Meet early with volunteers and inform them of the logistics of the race. Tell them where to report and when. It is helpful to designate someone to ‘sweep’ the course. This individual will follow the final runner and release volunteers from their stations when this final runner passes.
Mark the course. Runners like being able to keep track of their mile splits, so having every mile marked is desirable. Make directional arrows and mile marking signs clearly visible, or spray paint them onto the road’s surface.
Direct runners to the starting line. Before the race, announce to the runners what the general course is like and make them aware of what to look for (volunteers, mile markers, etc.). Inform the runners how they will be timed, whether they will have to give the finish line official their name or a tag off their race bib.
Coordinate with the individuals timing the race as to the race start. The timer will generally shout “runners ready – GO.” A starting gun is not necessary, but if there is a large crowd a bullhorn may be desirable.
As soon as runners begin to finish, begin to compile results. Generally the top three finishers in each 5-year age group for males and female runners are recognized in addition to the overall winners. Once most or all of the runners have crossed the finish line, have the results on hand and begin to distribute awards. A runner running a 5k should be able to show up, run the race, and leave with an award in around an hour’s time.
After awarding the awards, make it a point to recognize the sponsors and thank them for their support. Showing sponsors the love will make them more liable to support the race again next year.
It is important to have a meeting with volunteers and race organizers (and even sponsors) in the weeks after the race to evaluate everyone’s experience. Getting feedback from runners is valuable too. Regardless of how smoothly the race was conducted, there is usually room for improvement and a chance to make the race bigger and better each year.