As a race director, it’s your job to make sure that your race is a success; that your content marketing, email marketing and race text messaging drive a stupid amount of race registrations, that your schwag bag has your athletes chomping at the bit and that your post race party is so epic that it leaves people talking straight through until your online race registration goes live for next year’s event.
And, obviously, all of these things are important.
But just as important as making sure your race is the bomb.com? Making a difference in the community that’s hosting the event.
For smaller events, this is probably YOUR community. But even if you’re a large scale operation with events all over the country, it’s still your race-director-duty to leave every place just a little bit better than you found it.
I know that sounds a bit Boy Scout/Pollyanna/Goodie-Two-Shoes...but it’s true, folks.
How exactly do you do that? How do you make sure that your race not only makes a difference to your athletes (and let’s be real, your and your sponsor’s pockets), but also in the community at large?
Partner With A Local Charity
One of the best ways that your race can make a big impact in the community is to partner with a local charity. Charities are always in need of extra hands, donations and support, and if your race can provide those things, it’s a huge win for the community.
Find a charity that resonates with you, your team and your athletes and figure out a partnership that makes sense. You could donate a percentage of all your race registrations to the charity, integrate your CrowdRise page with your imATHLETE registration, send your team to volunteer on site or even make a donation for every mile your athletes run in training (apps like CharityMiles manage this for larger charities, or you can have your athletes use MapMyRun or RunKeeper to track their mileage).
Even if you’re a small race, anything that you can do to help a charity effectively help more people is going to make an awesome impact on the community.
Get People Involved
Look, doing something for the community is great. But doing something WITH the community? Even better.
People like to feel like they’re a part of something (and if you need proof, just take a quick peek at the lunchroom dynamics of literally any middle school in existence). So making a push to do something awesome for the community hosting your race and then making the people of that community a real part of it is a total win.
Host a food drive in the weeks leading up to your race and ask for the community’s donations. Then, on race day, donate everything to the local food bank. Or host a blood drive for the local hospital, collect coats and gloves for the local homeless shelter…the possibilities are endless.
Or, you can take it a step further and lead the charge on an actual event. Organize a community cleanup where your team and community volunteers go all Monica Gellar on a local park. Or host a community talent show, raffle off some free race registrations and donate 100% of the proceeds to a charity of your choice.
Just like in middle school, including people will make you infinitely more popular. AND you’ll make a more lasting impact.
Think Outside Of Race Day
Most races roll into town (especially the big boys), do their thing, and then hightail it outta there faster than you can say “Usain Bolt”. And that’s fine.
But real talk: it’s hard to make a real difference in a community in one day. Just like all things worth doing (like training for a race or enjoying the entire Harry Potter collection, book AND film), it takes time. So if you really want to make an impact, you’ve got to invest some time that goes above and beyond race day.
Meet with your community contacts and brainstorm some ways that your race can stay involved throughout the year. Are there any community events that you can sponsor? Can your team come out a few times a year and coordinate volunteer events? Can you take up collections for the local food bank or homeless shelter?
Working to make a difference while you’re hosting the race is awesome. But working to make a difference all year round? That’s next level - in the best possible way.
Just like the real measure of a man’s success is how he treats the people he loves (cue cheesy music), the real measure of a race’s success is how it treats the community that hosts it. And no one, race or man, wants to measure short…so treat them well.