There's a running revolution afoot. Every year, more than 64 million Americans lace up their shoes and hit the pavement, and new runners take up the hobby every day. So whether you are looking to organize a fundraiser for your favorite charity, plan a community celebration, or simply promote healthy habits, hosting a 5k fun run is a great idea.
The most popular race distance, the 5k appeals to everyone from young families to elite athletes, but a successful event requires careful planning. Runners are a happy tribe, but they can have high expectations when it comes to races. To ensure your event is a hit, make sure you address these three frequently-overlooked areas that often draw runners' complaints.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Every athlete knows that before the gun goes off, a visit to the bathroom is mandatory. When planning an event for hundreds or thousands of runners, having enough toilet facilities can be challenging, but it should be a top priority. Nothing raises a runner's ire like long lines because of inadequate portable restrooms.
- Begin by contacting a portable restroom provider. They can help you determine how many units you will need based on your event size, the ratio of women to men, and how long the event will last.
- If your race course is point-to-point, make sure you have portable restrooms placed at the beginning and the end. You should also consider placing a unit along the course; though this is not strictly necessary for a short distance like a 5k, runners appreciate the extra thoughtfulness.
- Don't forget to include at least one disability accessible unit. 5k races draw all kinds of racers, so you'll want to make sure your event is inclusive.
EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY
It is customary to have an aid station at the half-way mark in a 5k. Runners get thirsty, and a simple snack like an energy gel, orange slice, or banana is usually appreciated, too. A good aid station will provide runners with everything they need and will be efficient, cheery, and lively.
- Make sure you have plenty of volunteers running the aid station. You will need them to hand out drinks and snacks to the runners, but they do so much more than just serve food. Good volunteers make the race; their enthusiasm creates the festive atmosphere that turns a simple run into a memorable experience. Encourage them to dress up, cheer on the runners, and have fun.
- Have enough supplies so that every participant, even those at the end of the pack, receive support. Nothing provokes ire at a race like running out of cups or fruit before all the runners pass through the aid station.
- Make sure the aid station is organized. Many of your runners will be striving to meet a time goal, and every second counts. A well-organized aid station will help your participants do their best, and they'll appreciate your efforts.
SHIRTS OF ALL SIZES
A race shirt is a thing of pride for most runners; it's a wearable memento of their accomplishment.
- Consider offering gender-specific shirts. Most petite women runners enjoy having a shirt that fits instead of the tent-like unisex offerings they sometimes receive.
- Make sure you have a wide range of shirt sizes available--runners are a diverse group. Order plus sizes and children's sizes, too.
- Investing in a quality shirt won't cost much more, but it's an excellent way to earn loyalty from your participants. Runners will gladly pay a few dollars more for the race's registration if it means they get a great shirt. As a bonus, if the shirt is nice, it will be used for many years to come, and your event gets publicity every time they wear it.
Planning a 5k is a labor of love, but if you pay attention to these three areas, your participants are sure to love you--and your race!