What do you like to find in a race?

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03/06/2014 at 07:24

Hello everyone,

I am an event organiser of a Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10KM.

I was wondering what do runners prefer to find at a race?

- medal
- goody bag (city information, event details, timetable of event, race bib, t-shirt)
- fluid stations (water, sponges & electrolytes every 3KM?)
- Entertainment Programme after the race
- Race Marshalls at all critical points of the course

what else should I be looking to improve?

You can help improve the running experience for a lot of runners! 

03/06/2014 at 08:16

What I want most is good organisation.

Good marshalling at the start and finish as well as on the course, plenty of toilets, water, race gets off on time. If you're going to skimp on that stuff in order to supply goody bags and entertainment I'd rather you didn't.

03/06/2014 at 08:30

Thank you for your reply "Screamapillar"! Of course great organisation is the number one priority and I thought that was a given.

I was talking in regards of creating a bundle to go with great organisation.

03/06/2014 at 08:46

Call me a pedant, but if the goody bag is handed out at the end of the run, items such as race number (bib), timetable, etc are too late.

Info such as this and city detials etc should be sent to te competitors in advance, ideally at least a couple of weeks before. 

I agree with Screamy in that a lot of the hygiene factors are often missing from race organisation in favour of the "razzamatazz".  Personally I don't care about a pre-race warm-up by Mr Motivator, but I'd rather there were plenty of loos.

03/06/2014 at 08:49

PS - please ensure the route is well planned and avoid (at all costs) the need to transport runners from the finish by bus.  All GSI events spring to mind on this one where they spectacularly fail to provide either enough buses, or they've not thought it through enough.

03/06/2014 at 08:53

Toilets. A well staffed baggage drop. Signs.

Queing is a pain in the arse. But not as annoying as wondering around trying to find things.

Clear and accurate mile/km signs.

Water and food at the finish


03/06/2014 at 09:03
I completely agree with the above. I'd rather not have a t-shirt (particularly the cheap nasty generically sized fits no one cotton ones) nor medal if the race is well organised. I suspect most races give medals so I'm in the minority on that one but can the t shirt be an optional extra that athletes pay for? That's also likely to make it a better quality garment too.

I just want a race number, chip timing for a larger race, an information pack, a well chosen start venue with access to free parking if possible or at least information about local car parks. Then at the start lots of portaloos, efficient bag drop. Race to start on time, well signed, lots of marshals. Water stations I think you're guided by regs anyway. A non cluttered finish (previous city disasters have seen athletes penned into town squares and even a castle once, making it difficult to exit.) Foil blankets at the end if it's a cool day are a nice touch. Excellent medical support, that hopefully we know little about. Goody bag not necessary - a bottle of water and a Mars bar would do me. Cash prizes for winners.

All that for a fair price. Some races are charging a lot of money for entry fees and it's too much. Cut the razzmatazz and keep the price affordable please.
03/06/2014 at 09:11

+1 for toilets. Think of the amount of toilets you think you will need, then order more.

Also, no-one cares about post-race entertainment, but you might want to think about something for kids & families to do while the race is actually going on. Prizes for winners, and a flapjack or something in the goody bag (if you must have one to put the sponsors' leaflets in).

03/06/2014 at 09:29

Personally, I would base it on something like North Dorset Village Marathon (I have nothing to do with the club/race, other than I've ran it).  It is a relatively small event and was in the Top 10 RW events last year, and gets very good scores on here.


It's well marshalled, personal drink/food bags catered for at some drink stations, a great/scenic course, decent medal (subjective I suppose), busses back to the start (although it's only about a mile and many walk), tea/coffee/cakes/bacon sarnies etc.  It's well priced and they allow number transfers which I think is important.  They also offer late refunds (minus £2).

03/06/2014 at 09:36
Oh yes, that's a good point Big G. Transfers (and refunds where possible) appreciated.
03/06/2014 at 09:40

Consider those travelling by public transport. My local half (Stevenage) is on a direct train line from London and to accomodate people travelling by train has a free shuttle bus to the start from the station.

03/06/2014 at 10:12
Starting the different races off at different times.
There is nothing more annoying than chasing someone down and then realising they are in a different race.

If there are going to be lots is runners having signs / areas up at the start to organise predicted finish times so the faster runners can get a clean start and then others won't get trampled/ barged out of the way.

Decent results service should be a given.

Personally I'm not interested in a goody bag or t-shirt. Make t-shirts available to purchase for those that want one.

Make the advertised price the one that you actually pay. Don't add on extra card fees or bus tickets etc afterwards .
03/06/2014 at 10:18

The thing runners hate the most is thinking that they've paid for a lot of extras that they don't want. So if you do want to put together a 'bundle' of things to complement the organisation, make sure that, as well as being things that people actually want (food, drink, etc.) it is clear what things have been provided for free by sponsors.

03/06/2014 at 10:55

+1 for accessible by public transport. Allow enough time for folks to get to the nearest train station and walk/cycle/taxi to the start.

And +1 for a decent baggage stow, for those of us who don't have cars (and use public transport, see above).

A decent medal, always like a gong.

Refreshments at the start/finish - I'm doing a village 10K on Sunday where the local mums run a tea and cake stall. Wonderful.

A gibbet at the finish line on which to string up headphone wearers.

03/06/2014 at 10:56

 How about marshalls supplied with scissors - then they could snip the headphone cords en route?

03/06/2014 at 11:01
Muttley wrote (see)


A gibbet at the finish line on which to string up headphone wearers.


 I am recording positions/race numbers/times at the marathon point of the Dartmoor Discovery (32-miler) this Saturday and all marshals have been told to contact the Race Director if they see anyone wearing headphones on the route.

03/06/2014 at 11:07
On the basis of health and safety can they be given safe box cutter knives instead? So that they cannot do themselves any harm. Maybe the race could produce branded ones for marshals to thank them for their time and give them a momento?

03/06/2014 at 11:12
+1 for a decent baggage storage area and also the headphones ban.
If they get caught with headphones let them finish the race but the DQ them with no medal etc.
03/06/2014 at 11:47

while we're stringing up headphones-wearers, how about a sniper to shoot dead anybody talking during the pre-race briefing?

(sorry, but had a really bad experience of this at most recent race)

03/06/2014 at 11:51

Event Clips.

None of that safety pin nonsense.

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