Our “RD Q+A” posts aim to take real-life questions from race directors that we either see frequently or we think could help other events with best practices. Yes you can breathe easier, you’re not the only one that has questions!
“I am starting a race series (5K, 10K, and half marathon) and would like to know the best way to set up registration. I want someone to be able to register for all the events to participate in the series or just register for one event if they cannot participate in all. How should I set this up?"
Great question! More and more event organizers are turning to race series events to keep athletes engaged over a longer period of time so we have started to see this question come up a lot. Don’t worry, as your online race registration software we have you covered!
There are a couple ways to approach this but because you want athletes to be able to register solely for the 5K or the 10K without participating in the entire series, you need to create 3 separate event registrations (one for each event). This is how the series options differ:
One Registration / All Events in the Series: This is probably the more strict of the two options but you would create the three event registrations as usual and then also create a fourth event that is entitled “ XYZ Race Series” and require that people who are running the series register here. This forces athletes to sign up for the series early on and guarantees their participation across all three events.
Bonus Points -- This saves the athlete the hassle of registering three different times and allows you to charge one standard price across the board. If you have a special medal for your series then this is the easiest way to track who is participating in the series as your data is in one location. You’ll know exactly how many series medals, shirts, or prizes you need exactly.
Potential Pitfalls -- You have to make sure that you don’t forget about these series athletes when turning your race registration data over to your timing company! The last thing you want is miffed athletes who don’t have a bib when they get on-site especially when they have already paid for three events up front. Also make sure you have a plan for people that don’t sign up for the series but sign up for the events separately. Some races are strict about this while others are more lenient but having rules strictly spelled out on your website can help alleviate any contention.
One Registration Per Event (aka, loosey goosey): This option is less strict but you allow participants to register in each singular event and then you track series participants separately. This allows the athlete the opportunity to decide as they go if they want to continue to take part in the series.
Bonus Points -- This can help your athletes’ pocketbooks as they don’t have to shell out for all three events at once. You can still help them save by creating a multi-event discount code and giving a discount for a better price once they sign up for all three events.
Potential Pitfalls -- Tracking who is participating in the series is a little more difficult but use the Repeat Participants by Event report for help in identifying those athletes. You always risk someone spelling their name differently or using a different email address when they register so you may miss people. Be sure you have on-site solutions or a plan with how to deal with these folks so you aren’t caught unprepared!
The Total Headache Option (i.e., stay away, avoid, don't do this!): I would recommend staying away from using classes within events to accomplish this. For example, in your 5K event DO NOT create a class for "5K + Series". This will create so many headaches later on with figuring out which data needs to be moved to what event to make sure you don't miss a series of bibs. I've seen it first-hand and trust me, you don't want to deal with that data mess!
Setting up your race series usually comes down to how strict you want to be with how you allow athletes to get the series benefits. Some events require athletes to sign up in the series event and other event organizers are a lot more lenient with when and how athletes can complete online race registration.
If you have any questions that you'd like to submit for a future "RD Q+A" feel free to drop us a note in the comments.