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Dave Carder
September 17, 2018

Add Participants by Adding Distance Options

duck_paddle_photo_2A lot of work goes into putting on a running event. Even the simplest ones still involve careful attention to a multitude of details your participants will never know about. Good RDs are a bit like ducks- calm and unruffled looking above the water but paddling like heck below! 

Now that you have done all the heavy lifting to set up your event, have you considered adding another distance? Offering a second race option won't double the effort. A marginal increase in workload can mean a much higher yield of participants.

An established 5K could add a 1-mile Fun Run or Kids Run. You may want to offer the kids run for free. By offering it as a no-cost option, it may encourage participants to make your event a family affair. Kids love to watch mom or dad run a race but it's even more fun if they have an event of their own. The course can be an out-and-back on your already established course, The distance doesn't matter as much as the energy for them the finish line! Be sure to have a low-cost finisher's award for kids. You just might help inspire the next Prefontaine to take up running.

Of course the primary motivation for adding another option is to increase participation numbers and ultimately increase revenue. Every runner you can add to an additional race distance will be more profitable as most of your fixed costs are already covered.

You can add a shorter distance to an already established longer distance event. Add a 5k distance to a 10k race. You now have an option for people who may not be ready quite yet for the longer event, but can move up next year. Half marathons can easily add 10k's and so on. As your event grows, you can keep adding to the lineup and create something for just about everyone in your demographic.

Adding longer distances to an established race works too. And while it could be more work than going to shorter options, you'll also find it's not twice the work. One option is to use a loop format such that a 10K is two loops of the 5k.

Or, offer an uncommon distance. Offer a 2 miler or 8k or a 7.4k for 4th of July. Chances are, it'll be a PR for most people since they won't have a recorded time for that distance.

race stickers

Another approach is to add a an optional non-running event to an existing race. An example is a Run + Press or Run + Curl where the run time is reduced by some multiple of the number of bench presses or curls or other measurable lift that is performed. These encourage non-traditional runners who have other athletic gifts. It also adds to the finish line excitement for the crowd.

And then there's the whole beer mile, taco run, donut run, <insert other non-run-friendly food name> run. And virtual races! We could go on and on...

Whatever new event classes you decide to add, be sure to let your past participants know about it in a personalized way. Consider your pricing strategy and the geographic target area for that particular race distance. 

With some creative thinking you can expand on your already successful formula to reach new participants. Have questions about your race ideas or the tools we offer to support you? Contact us at

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