Guest Column - July 2008
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On the Road

10 Components to a Successful Race

By Mark Balsan and Peter Titlebaum, Ed.D.


The community can support and cheer on participants to increase the fun of the event. Spectators boost morale of the participants going by and provide needed support to finish a race.

By creating a fan-friendly section with music, runner updates via mobile phone and information for spectators about the race, the event can become a great place to cheer on participants. Providing an enjoyable experience for spectators is important so they keep coming back each year. Marketing information on a Web site or even in promotional materials can boost support and draw people to the event. Posting signs with information around the area is crucial to get the word out to the community about when the race will occur.


Marketing is an important component to raising awareness about the race. This is a significant investment that can reap rewards if utilized correctly. Using multiple sources for public relations will lead to a balanced campaign. The volunteer groups already believe in the race and will assist you if provided with advertising materials to distribute. Also, sponsors will assist with marketing because they have invested money and want to receive positive exposure.

A database is crucial to marketing future races. If it is a first-year event, you won't have a database, but can develop one for the following year. Registration forms must contain contact information, including mailing address, phone number and/or e-mail address. Having this information allows you to perform a major mail, phone and/or e-mail campaign to previous participants. Sending out promotional material can be crucial to get people to come back. These campaigns can attract casual participants and can lead to word-of-mouth advertising.

Supply information in areas that are highly visible to the community. Designing a banner to hang at an intersection will gain attention. You can also distribute flyers to homes, schools, health clubs and other organizations. Get the information out, because the majority of your participants won't be calling you.


The race site is an important part of its success. However, the course isn't the only component involved in the location of your event site. The surrounding area of the course, specifically the start and finish line, affect the flow of the race.

First, where are the participants going to go after they cross the finish line? Is there a chute that will lead them to the refreshment area? Is there enough room to hold participants and supporters? Wherever they go, the flow needs to be constant so people aren't stopping and clogging the area after the finish line. Participants should end up in an area where they can relax and recover.

Next, parking and transportation arrangements are crucial. As participants finish, traffic leaving the race will build up. Traffic flow will have to be coordinated with police.

Carefully consider the date and time at which the event is held. When deciding on a date, many issues need to be weighed. Issues of date selection can range from conflicting with other events on the same day, construction, typical weather or availability due to other reasons (holidays, festivals). Consider a date that will allow few obstacles and maximum participation.