“Easy Does it” Race Director Kit

by | May 22, 2011 | Uncategorised


Many individuals and organizations have inquired about what is required to hold a quality road race. The guidelines below are based on our years of experience running our own events and advising others.

Getting Started: start planning for a race at least five months prior to race day:

  1. Select a race date and course: 
    1. Will the run or walk be competitive with race results or a casual fun run?
    2. Check existing race calendars for date availability – don’t want to compete for participants.
    3. Depending on the course, obtain police, city, state park city park clearance, if applicable.
    4. Important to provide a well measured and marked course for participants.  Line up sponsor(s) as soon as possible.
  2. Assign assistants to help you (these are minimum) – course, publicity, registration, awards, finish line
  3. Obtain event insurance
  4. Budget expenses and set fees accordingly with the following considerations:
    1. Freebies to all participants:  t-shirts, hats, gloves, socks, mugs or other event souvenirs (get creative)
    2. Awards for age group awards and overall
    3. Printing of flyers, mailings, posters
    4. Refreshments for participants and volunteers
    5. Event insurance
    6. Bib numbers and/or chips if chip timed event
    7. Fees for race management company for race results and equipment
    8. Applicable parade permits, police fee, city park fee, flagging and road closure, porta johns
  5. Registration Forms

Registration – set up 2-3 months prior

  1. Printed Flyer/registration form:
    1. Include essentials such as: time, date, place, fee; leave space for entrants to list name, address, phone, gender, t-shirt size. Be sure to include address for mailing in entries. If you have a cut-off date for registration, please list it prominently.
    2. Other helpful information: course description, map to start, award categories, and name and contact phone number(s). List extras such as prize drawings, post-race refreshments, etc
    3. You can download sample entry forms from SCR by clicking here.
    4. Post pdf copy for download and printing off your website
  2. Online Race registration with a credit card simplifies the registration process. Many online registration services are available but they charge a surcharge so shop around.  There are options for the race director to absorb or share the surcharge or pass it along to the participant.  These online agencies also promote your event through their network and may well be worth the surcharge cost in terms of advertising your event.
    1. Having an online registration system simplifies the process of preparing results and allows labels to be printed for participants bibs and registration packets.
    2. For a comparison of online registration options refer to the following posting: RunColo Web Site.
  3. Pre-registered packets should have name clearly visible on the outside. Labels can be printed for participants entered into the computerized registrationsystem. Note any items that may have been left off of the registration form.
  4. Race day registration:  have at least three volunteers for this job
    1. Have $50 in small bills available for change, have the following on hand: pens, pencils, extra registration forms, bib numbers, safety pins, staplers, tape, coffee and donuts for workers (optional), note pad to keep track of anyone not receiving a t-shirt, power source for computer equipment.
    2. Coordinate with the race results team as they will need to input participant information to produce results. 


  1. Flyer/registration form is great to send out, leave at stores, put in newsletters, email to contacts, coworkers, etc.
  2. Southern Colorado Runners publicity:
    1. Email details to calendar@socorunners.org for placement on SCR calendar
    2. Contact newsletter@socorunners.org requesting to write an article for Footprints monthly newsletter about the event, get specifics of how much space is available and the deadlines involved.   
    3. If your race promotion is timed well with a printed newsletter distribution, provide 300 registration forms ready for insertion into the SCR newsletter. The forms must be on 8 1/2″ x 11″ unfolded paper. The newsletter fee of $25.00 must be included with the forms.  Drop off registration forms to sports stores, YMCA and etc. Send plenty and check back regularly to determine if they need more.
  3. Publicize through other race clubs and athletic organizations.
  4. Some local radio announcements may be made through race sponsors.
  5. Take written information to Sports Desk of the Pueblo Chieftain and respectfully request a write-up.


  1. Have course accurately measured and marked. Mark turns with chalk or flour, cones and marshals.
  2. If you have a lead bicyclist, take them around the course at least once; don’t just tell them…show them the course!
  3. Course marshals should be shown their spots.
  4. Place water stations some distance from major turns, and hills.
  5. Be sure water station personnel are familiar with process of holding water to hand to runners.
  6. Be sure marshals inform runners which direction to go verbally AND with hand signals.
  7. Send sweep bicycle rider after last runners to notify course marshals and other volunteers the last runner is finished.
  8. First aid and communication should be set-up.

Awards and T-Shirts

  1. Get prices on t-shirts as soon as possible.  Ask about artwork set up fees and format or if shop provides this service.
    1. Ordering short sleeved shirts can lower entry fees by $1 to $2. Check prices prior to setting registration fees.
    2. Tech shirts are more costly than cotton t-shirts but the only thing many runners now wear.
    3. Consider hats or other items not requiring sizes.
  2. Ask when the t-shirt order needs to be submitted.  May have to order a few weeks weeks prior to race. If so, order 75% of total participants from previous year. 
  3. Estimate the number of T-Shirts you will need and use the percentage of sizes participants requested the previous year. If you do not have last year’s entry forms, a reasonable estimate of shirt sizes for a race with a run and a walk is as follows:
    1. Small: 20%
    2. Medium: 25%
    3. Large: 33%
    4. Extra-Large: 18%
    5. XXL: 4%
  4. Decide on budget for medals and trophies. Get prices on alternate ideas such as ceramic mugs, etc. Consider spending less on medals and other merchandise or solicit donations for prize drawings.
  5. Keep accurate records of t-shirt orders. Also keep track of award winners who do not collect their awards.
  6. Do not give out t-shirts to race day registrants until all pre-registered people have theirs.

Week of and Race Day

  1. No later than the week prior to the race coordinate with your race volunteers providing directions, check-in times, and duties.
  2. 1-3 days prior to event, download and print labels for bibs for all pregistered participants
  3. Provide race timing company or results crew with the Xcel file to download all preregistered participants.
  4. Collect all items, t-shirts, flagging, chalk and flour, cones for marking course
  5. Race director need to ensure course marking, marshals, water stops, registration, finish line setup and last-minute volunteer instructions are taken care of.
  6. Set up packet pick up and same day registration 30 minutes prior to opening those tasks
  7. Have water, refreshments areas, aid stations set up 30 min prior to start of race
  8. Conduct cleanup operations.

During and After Race

  1. The race director does not get to run the event. The race director needs to be available to handle any issues that come up during the race.  It is advisable to have a knowledgeable assistant to act as a back-up go-to person.
  2. Plan awards ceremony immediately following results. Finish line and results crew you hire can give you an estimated time to determine award recipients.
  3. Obtain race results from results crew for submission to web sites (such as socorunners.org), the Pueblo Chieftain and other publications.