Oh, race day. For race directors, it’s the day they get to see their vision become a reality and all their hard work pay off. It’s a beautiful thing.
But I don’t have to tell you that it can also be a majorly stressful thing. You’ve got a lot of athletes showing up expecting a well-planned, organized and all around awesome race day experience. Race day stressors are a major headache, and they can leave a bad taste in your athlete’s mouth, no matter how awesome your actual event is.
Here are 4 headaches to avoid on race day if you want happy athletes (and to avoid a major headache yourself):
This headache can sink your race before it even gets started. Trust me when I say the last thing that your athletes want to deal with pre-race is sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or driving around in circles while volunteers point them to what might be the world’s most inconvenient parking spot a solid 3 miles from the starting line. Seriously, parking nightmares are the fastest way to piss off your athletes before they even show up to your event and you can bet your Asics that if it’s consistently a problem, it’s going to affect your race registrations.
To avoid this unnecessary headache, you need to make sure that your location offers a) plenty of parking and b) plenty of parking that’s not light years away from where your event is actually happening. If option B isn’t a possibility and you have to set up parking off site, make sure you have plenty of shuttles on hand to get your athletes back and forth (ESPECIALLY post race when their little tootsies will be aching something awful).
Lines At Check-In
Another headache that will have your impatient athletes ripping their hair out and angrily tossing packets of energy goo at your staff (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating…but how hilarious is that mental picture?!) is check in lines that stretch from here to infinity. Your athletes want to spend those precious minutes before go time stretching it out, getting psyched and prepping themselves for an awesome race, NOT impatiently tapping their foot Sonic-The-Hedgehog-style while the person in front of them tries to go through their phone attempting to find a copy of their online race registration so they can pick up their packet.
If you want to seriously streamline your PPP (packet pickup process), you need to get on texting your athletes, STAT. The amount of time texting will save your athletes during the check in process is borderline ridiculous; one event was able to cut their average check in time from 35 minutes to 27 seconds just by making this simple change. Insane, right?
(Oh, and just so you know…texting is FREE with your imATHLETE race management software. Just sayin’).
Not enough people on race day = MAJOR headache for you and your athletes. You want to have enough staff and volunteers on hand to make sure that things go smooth like butter on breakfast toast the day of your event. Race day is an all hands on deck kind of affair, and if you’re short on people, your race is going to suffer. Think unmanned water stations, backed up med tents, athletes grabbing ten schwag bags off the table in a frenzy because no one’s there to stop them…IT’S PANDEMONIUM!
A good rule of thumb for race day staffing is to write down the number of people you think you’ll need and then double (or even triple) it. There are always unexpected fires on race day, and you need support to deal with them so you don’t spend the day in a minor panic attack (plus, someone’s going to have to deal with those schwag-bag-stealing hooligans).
Not Enough Snackage
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we athletes are a hungry bunch, and you’ll never see us as hungry as the moment we cross the finish line. We are expecting bagels, protein bars and kombucha galore, and if you fail to deliver, expect some temper tantrums, negative Facebook comments and a whole lot of headache.
Do yourself a favor and have plenty of food on hand. Seriously, please feed us.
Don’t be a race full of headaches. Be the race day equivalent of Excedrin and cure your athlete’s headaches before they start.