Sellout Race Options and Best Practices

SoldOutOne of the biggest concerns of a fast-selling or sellout race is making the user experience fair and seamless.  We gathered a few Best Practices geared towards those events.

The first thing your race needs to do is decide your overall structure. A couple of options:

  • First-come, first-serve: This simple, straight-forward option is exactly what it sounds like, and has worked for years for sellout races like the Spring Lake 5 Miler. If you are offering first-come, first-serve, you also need to determine if you will have a Waitlist for those who do not get in.
  • Previous Runner Priority: Boilermaker uses the Loyalty Program to allow all runners from the previous year early access to registration, and then switches to a first-come, first-serve model for the remaining registrations.
  • Lottery: The Horribly Hilly Hundreds went with a straight lottery system in which each potential participant could enter (for free) up to twice. Once selected in the lottery, users logged in and completed registration and payment. A second drawing was used to fill spots left vacant by lottery winners who did not complete registration and payment.
  •  Combo: The Race to Robie Creek uses a combination. First, they open up the majority of their spots as first-come, first-serve. However, because the race sells out so quickly (10 minutes in 2016!), they want to give runners an additional option: once registration is full, they offer a “drawing” (open for several days) to select additional participants. Runners pay a $5 fee to enter the 2nd chance drawing. Transfers are also allowed.

A few things that apply, regardless of the setup you select:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Let your runners know the process ahead of time: email previous years’ runners and any other contacts and post on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll want to let them know
    • Registration Link
    • Any additional information they should have on-hand during the registration process (for example, if they need to know a race time from a previous race, or to verify a passport number).
    • Make sure they have (and remember the password to) a RunSignUp account before race day, and are set for faster registration. 
  • Think about web traffic. Most race websites cannot handle the high traffic of a race sellout – there is nothing RunSignUp can do if you host a registration widget on your site and your site crashes. You can either post just the link to RunSignUp on your site, or redirect your site to RunSignUp for the duration of registration. RunSignUp’s site is designed to handle high traffic!

We have a sample email communication for a Race Director in another blog, here.

Now that you’re all setup, sit back and watch the Real-Time map show your race explode like these ones:

Author: RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for race registration, race day solutions, and running clubs. Services include RunSignUp for registration, RunSignUp Go for Race Day, RunSignUp RD Go for Timers, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RaceJoy for mobile experiences. More than 10,000 race directors, timers, running club officers and running stores use these services today, including leading organizations like the Boilermaker Road Race, Crim Festival of Races, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., Fifth Third River Bank Run, Blacklight Run, Bubble Run, Night Nation, Mercedes Marathon, Kentucky Derby Festival, Leone Timing, KC Running Company, Compuscore Timing, Knoxville Track Club, Pikes Peak Road Runners, Gulf Coast Runners, Columbus Running Company, Playmakers Running Store and many more. In 2015, over 10,000 races used the system to register more than 2.7 million participants. In 2016 over 14,000 races will use the system to process over 4.3 million paid registrations. Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions such as race registration or club membership renewal. RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community. For more information, visit

One thought on “Sellout Race Options and Best Practices”

  1. Race to Robie Creek-not quite correct – if you win a spot via the 2nd chance drawing, you then will pay the $50.00 entry fee. And we do allow for transfers, also. Brian Race to Robie Creek

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