Ventura Marathon Case Study

We have a series Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users.  This Ventura Marathon Case Study focuses on Self-Service Participant Management, Sponsors, and Club Discounts & Cross Promotion. 

View the PDF Version of the Ventura Marathon Case Study

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Overview: The Ventura Marathon sets an example for efficient, self-service participant management.


About the Ventura Marathon: The Ventura Marathon is produced by Josh Spiker of Vendurance Sports and timed by Royal Results.  Vendurance Sports owns 10 events and Times and/or Directs another 30-40 events, as well as offering a Running Club and Coaching Service.  In it’s inaugural year, 2013, the Ventura Marathon drew just shy of 3,000 participants for a Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K, and Kids Sand Run.

The Basic Setup

The Ventura Marathon uses a fairly standard, straight-forward setup.  A few highlights of their setup:

  • CS2They use multiple Registration Periods to reward and encourage earlier registration (from $75 11-months prior to Race Day all the way to $130 the week of the Marathon).
  • They have edited and adapted the Standard Waiver to specifically address the events that they are registering for.
  • They use a handful of Custom Questions, including expected finish times (for Wave Start breakdown), expected number of nights in a hotel for the event (information of interest to Sponsors), and personal details & profession (for the Race Announcer to Reference).
  • They allow participants to “Find a Participant” (under Race Page – Misc. Settings) to allow runners to confirm their own registration and see who else is registered for the race.
  • Each event includes a Free Giveaway (a Tech T), and offers a variety of sizes in Women’s and Men’s cuts, but there are no additional store items.

Making Registration Easy

Josh offers runners several ways to register in order to minimize road blocks.  He links to RunSignUp registration from the Ventura Marathon Website, as well as from a RunSignUp Race Calendar on the Vendurance Sports site.  Additionally he recently began utilizing the Facebook SignUp App to allow runners to register directly in Facebook.Picture12Picture11

 

 

 

Making Participant Management Easy

“RunSignUp allows the participants to do everything online, so we are completely hands-off.  Where we might have gotten 50 emails, maybe we get 3 now.  We allow people to defer up to a certain point, we allow people to transfer to a friend, and we also allow people to switch events within the same race (Marathon to Half Marathon, etc)”  – Josh Spiker

Setting up Participant Management

All Participant Management Settings can be found on the Participants/Participant Management segment of the Race Dashboard

Refunds: Josh does not allow participants to refund themselves for the race.

Event to Event Transfers: Event to Event TransferCS3s are enabled with additional fees for increasing distance but none for decreasing distance.  If the event that the runner is transferring to is more expensive, they will be charged the fee + the registration difference, along with the RunSignup processing fee based on the amount they are paying.  This means a runner transferring from the Half Marathon to the Marathon will pay an additional $30 (plus processing fee), but a runner dropping from the Marathon to the Half Marathon will not pay an additional fee.

Bib Exchange: Runners who are injured or otherwise cannot run are allowed to transfer a bib to another runner at no additional cost.  This keeps race turn-out high.

Deferrals: As another option for injured/unexpectedly unavailable runners, the Ventura Marathon allows a deferral of registration to the following year.  Race Directors have the option to set a Deferral fee, but the Ventura Marathon chooses not to have one.  When he prepares the race for the following year, Josh will download a report containing all deferred registrations and set up a coupon for those participants to use to register for the following year.

All participant management options are set to close 4 days prior to Race Day to minimize and control any changes made once the Bib Assignment and packet pickup have begun.

The Ventura Marathon has a very flexible set of participant management options.  This is financially beneficial to the race because it ensures high race day turnout, and allows them to collect transfer fees (for runners increasing distance) or keep higher registration fees (for runners decreasing in distance)  Most importantly it creates a lot of goodwill and runner support for the race by allowing for the flexibility and solutions for dealing with injuries or unexpected scheduling conflicts. 

Making Participant Management Self-Service

Josh puts a little additional time into his website to minimize any runner confusion.CS4

  • For each option of participant management, there is a separate page with information about the guidelines and timeline for making changes.
  • Josh includes a series of screenshots from RunSignUp, along with basic instructions, to walk runners step by step through the entire process.

The time it takes Josh to document the process for his runners saves him time down the line by eliminating the need to manage runners personally or respond to numerous emails.

Reporting Features to Support Sponsors

“With sponsors, a lot of times we get questions about demographics – percentage female vs male, where they are all from, etc.  So what we do is we go into the reports features on RunSignUp, and they have graphical reports and they look really pretty.  We run those reports, take a screenshot, and  we’ll send those to a sponsor.  That way, we don’t have to re-create all that stuff from scratch.  Every day, essentially, that data changes – if we did that on our own, in adobe illustrator or something, it might take 20 minutes and in RunSignUp it takes less than 1 minute.”

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 Club Discount and Promotion

Vendurance Sports also has a Running Club. Currently, the Ventura Running Tribe has around 100 members, with continued growth as a goal.  There is a 2-way interaction between the Running Club and the Ventura Marathon:CS8

  • Running Tribe members are encouraged to participate in the Marathon with a 10% discount off all event fees.  RunSignUp can auto-detect if a registrant is a member of the Running Tribe to prevent non-members from using a coupon code or other discount method.
  • Runners who are not currently Running Tribe members are prompted to consider joining the club CS9within the Race Registration.  This encourages area runners to participate with the Tribe with the added bonus of a race discount.

“On our races we set up a discount for all club members…no coupon necessary, and it only gives them to current members.  For some races it isn’t a big deal, but if you are giving 10-20% off for your running club and you put the coupon out there, they can share it with anyone.  

This discount only gives it to current club members.”If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small,  email us
…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!

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Video Results – Runners like them!

Video ResultsIn the first weekend after releasing video results, we had at least 4 races use this new feature!  For example and example and example.  And we got some rave reports:

“We added video to two of our results pages from the weekend: super easy to set up on the RSU end (YouTube is another story), and a huge hit with the masses. THANK YOU for making this feature available. It’s something I didn’t know I would ever use, but greatly appreciate you all thinking outside the typical registration/results box to provide what I consider the leading product in the marketplace. Kudos.” – Andy Harris, Columbus Running Event Management

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Multi-Charity Donation Reports

Multiple Charity ReportingWhen a race has multiple charities that can runners and donors can chose from, RunSignUp now offers a convenient report and search capability for showing the multiple charities. Thanks to the Genworth Virginia 10 Miler for this idea!

Multiple Charity Selection and Searching

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Corporate Team Store Purchases Reports

Corporate Team Store ReportingWe have added the ability to see purchases made by corporate teams in the Store Reporting as well as part of the Corporate Team pages.

Thanks to the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Walk/Run for this idea!

Corporate Team Store Orders

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Forgetting Passwords

Forgot Password?RunSignUp is now checking if a runner registering for a race has previously used the same email and asking them to login. If they have forgotten their password, we are now providing a direct and simple way for them to get the password emailed to them. This new mechanism works well with the many race websites that use our widget so they are not bounced out to RunSignUp.

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NC Troopers Footchase 5K Case Study

We have a series Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users.  This NC Troopers Footchase 5K Case Study focuses on Growing a Small Race through community involvement, alternate participant options, and branding. 

View the PDF Version of the NC Troopers Footchase 5K

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Overview:
The NC Troopers Footchase 5K switched to RunSignUp in their second year and implemented some creative promotion techniques to boost their participation from fewer than 70 (in year 1) to 365 in year 2. 

About the NC Troopers Footchase 5K: Sergeant Kelly Stewart first conceived of the race as a goodwill event between the NC Troopers and their community.  The 2013 race donated proceeds of $3,324.01 to Catawba Regional Hospice in an effort to “partner with allied agencies and give back to the community.”

“We don’t want to just be the person that people see when there’s bad news.  We want people to know that we are about them and want to give back.”

Tough Beginnings: “When we started the Troopers Footchase 5K, I thought it was going to be pretty simple…you create an event, you get permits, you create a way for users to sign up, and then you start to try to spread the word and all these people are supposed to show up at your event.  Well, it didn’t happen.”

Learning From Mistakes

Rather than letting year one be a crushing discouragement, Kelly wanted to figure out how to make the 2nd Troopers Footchase the event he had hoped to see in year one.  He used a post-race survey for some insight and made some decisions heading into year 2.  His initial focus points for year 2 included:

Starting Early: “I started way too late.  I gave myself about 3 months to do everything; that was my first mistake.”
Year 2 preparations began virtually as year one concluded.

Course Review: “I learned a lot of valuable lessons.  One being that just because I am OK with a hilly route, that doesn’t mean that your average runner would like to do that.”
For year 2, Kelly implemented a flatter more beginner-friendly course.

Marketing: “Hey we didn’t hear about this” or “this was the fewest number of people we’ve seen at an event” were pointed remarks indicating that Kelly needed to find new ways to get out the word out about his event.

“And that’s kind of where RunSignUp came into the picture.  Immediately I was able to see a difference of how our volume of participants, and how the ease of registration process went into play.”Picture7

Something for Everyone: Creating Ways for Everyone to be Involved

“You have to have something for everyone.  How can we get people involved that aren’t runners?”

 Picture5Fun Run: Kelly made the fun run a manageable .6 mile run.  He used RunSignUp’s Age-Based Pricing to make the Fun Run $10 for youth 10 & Under to encourage parents to sign up their children.

“You bring the youth, and everyone else will come.  That’s how we change America, and that’s how we grow races.”

Alternative Participant Options

Phantom Runner: Kelly gives non-runners – or runners unavailable on race day – the option to participate as a “Phantom Runner.” A Phantom Runner pays less than the 5K registration ($20), and receives a T-shirt for their contribution…but the remainder of their fee goes directly to the charity.  Phantom Runner is set up as an event for the race, which non-runners can register for directly.   In 2014, they had 68 Phantom Runners – more than the total number of runners in 2013.

Picture3First Responder Uniform Finisher: In 2014, Kelly added this concept in response to a First Responder who wanted to participate, but does not run. He is expanding and promoting the option for 2015, with the intention of both getting more first responders to participate and inspiring the other runners with the presence of uniformed First Responders.

Involving the Community

Sponsors: Kelly focuses on encouraging all sponsors, not only those who can make large contributions. In some cases, sponsors made in-kind donations like printing signs; others made financial contributions. In the end, the 2014 race had 27 Sponsors at an average of $123 per sponsor.  While those aren’t big numbers per-sponsor it adds up, and was a huge factor in increasing the Race’s charity donation from $500 in 2013 to over $3,000 in 2014.

School Involvement: Kelly spoke at local Principle’s meetings to encourage youth Fun Runners.

Media: Kelly kept in communication with the local media regarding the event both before and after the race.  By sharing the personal elements of the race (the symbolism of the Trooper involvement, as well as the charity it supported), Kelly presented a human interest story as well as an athletic one.Picture4

Facebook: While not a personal user of Facebook, Kelly uses a Facebook Page  to provide information about the event, and keep the event fresh in people’s minds during the months before the race. Additionally, he has added the RunSignUp “SignUp” button to his Facebook page to allow users to sign up directly within Facebook.

“We gained 46 likes in one week…for some of you, that may be no big deal, but for a small race like us, I was doing backflips.”

Using RunSignUp for Brand Recognition

Kelly wanted to make it as easy as possible for runners to register for the race.  He used the visual of the RunSignUp logo in multiple ways to “burn the image into the participants, and other people’s minds, so that they will know how to find us.”

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Results of Kelly’s Effort & RunSignUp Partnership

  • From year 1 to year 2, the NC Troopers Footchase 5K grew 530% – in spite of a rainy race day
  • Proceeds available for charity donation increased from $500 to $3000+
  • Facebook community grew to 350+ with engagement near 1,000
  • For 2015, the race will have a Race Committee in addition to a single Race Director

Building on Success

Kelly is not content to coast on the improvement from 2013-2014.  Looking ahead to 2015, he is already focused on growth and improvements.

  • There are 20 “T-Shirt” volunteers who 10384757_328506450635282_656290750198286471_nhave agreed to wear a shirt advertising the upcoming race at 3-5 running events through the summer and fall.  The shirts encourage interest in the race, and show runners where to sign up to participate.
  • They are seeking a sponsor for the Fun Run to allow 50 youth to participate for free, in hopes that they will bring their families to participate and/or begin building towards an active lifestyle and years of participation in running events.
  • They are continuing to build on their social media presence by developing their Twitter and working to build an Instagram account.Picture11
  • Preparing for the 2015 Race, Kelly included his Facebook community in a vote to determine which charity they would raise money for.  The poll had a significant response on his audience: in one week, his Facebook likes grew from 388 to 636 – with nearly 6,000 people engaged.
  • They are working with the RunSignUp team to develop their own website to further promote their brand.
  • Kelly attended (and presented at) the first RunSignUp Race Directors & Timers Symposium to learn from fellow Race Directors and hear new ideas about growing and improving his race.

If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small,  email us…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!

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Time Zone Changes

Time Zone Changes

We have deployed an update today (Tuesday, August 19th) that will support Time Zones. This means you can now set the time zone when you create your race – previously, we had shown all times in Eastern Time, which caused confusion over things like registration in California ending at 9PM Pacific because it was set to close at Midnight Eastern Time. 

We automatically included a timezone for all races, but recommend double-checking your race to ensure it is correct.  

The timezone supports worldwide timezones and does automatic adjustment for daylight savings time (for example a race in the summer would show PDT for Pacific Daylight Time and a race in the winter would show PST). We included support for the many border cases like Indiana and Arizona.

What you need to do:

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  • Open your Race Dashboard
  • Select “Race” from your menu, and then “Race Wizard”
  • In the “Basic Steps” tab of the Race Wizard (it will open to this tab), you will find a Timezone field just below your location information
  • Verify that the Timezone is correct, and if you make any changes, make sure you hit the “Save and Continue button at the bottom of the page”
  • Picture3Double-check your race page to verify that it is showing your race time correctly.  Please let us know ASAP if there are any issues.

We hope you and your runners enjoy the new feature that makes RunSignUp more local across the US (and other places around the world in the future as we add more multinational support).

 

 

 

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