“As race directors react to declining participation numbers, what we’re seeing is more of them increase value and create better experiences for their runners, partners, charities and communities.”
– Rich Harshbarger, Running USA (2017 US Road Race Trends)
While we have some data discrepancies that question whether the endurance event industry is actually in decline, there’s no argument that the marketplace is packed with competition. So, in a saturated environment, how do you make your event stand out?
The simple answer is: provide the most value”. Races are adding value in many ways, some creative and some not-so creative. We frequently see: medals that are bigger or function as beer or wine openers, high quality t-shirts or premium swag, beer tents, catered food tents, more awards, and premium entertainment on and off-course. But creating value doesn’t have to mean spending more money on products – bang for your buck can come from unusual experiences instead of bags of stuff.
Experiential value requires focus on the details of a participant’s race from the moment they arrive on-site all the way until they return home. On-site experiential value can be built by things pre-race team meeting spots, a fun backdrop for post-race photos, a costume contest, or highlighting the historic sites on a race course with visible markers (or RaceJoy Geo-Cheer Points).
But if the value of your race has to be crammed into one day, it’s limited in potential. Why not expand your RaceDay…well, beyond RaceDay. People are training for your event long before they pick up their bib – if you can make that part fun, you can give them a good race experience before they even show up. How? Make the pre-race months social by building a community. We’re hosting a webinar on Strava Clubs on May 30th to explore how their platform can help build a virtual community to connect your runners (SignUp here), but there are many ways to extend your RaceDay. Ideas include:
- Create a Facebook group, and prompt runners to share their training, ask runners what the course is like, and share photos of themselves to build relationships with other fellow runners
- Setup a training team with a recommended training plan and group runs
- Provide incentives for groups and teams to spend time together before the race by offering a prize for the best homemade team t-shirt
- Host a happy hour for pace groups to meet others with the same goals
- Organize weekend/evening fun runs for runners to come train on portions of the course with other people they’ll see on RaceDay
- Offer a meetup for first-time racers a few weeks before the event
- Incorporate a fundraising challenge for your race charity and highlight runners who are engaged in fundraising – with specifics about how they money they are raising will be used
- Create and share videos with footage from previous years to create excitement for what’s to come
Just like the RaceDay experience can start weeks before the event, it can also extend into the months after. Share photos and videos, highlight success stories from the event, and encourage runners to continue to correspond via the virtual communities you established before the event.
When you feel like your race is stagnant and you can’t possibly add another giveaway or snack to RaceDay, try focusing on the other days of the year, instead.