RaceJoy Self Serve for Race Directors

You can now easily add RaceJoy capabilities to your race. RaceJoy is now a first level menu option in your Race Director Dashboard, with a wizard that allows you to do a number of things including creating a map, selecting a buy-out option, and uploading logos and sponsor information.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 3.35.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 3.43.24 PMMap Building
This is now in your hands. You can create a map in various map building tools, and then customize in the RunSignUp race dashboard. Here is an example of using MapMyRun and the RaceJoy marker system to set up a great course map:

Custom Images & Sponsors
It is now simple to upload your own images so they will display in RaceJoy to your runners and spectators. You can upload multiple so they rotate, or highlight certain sponsors by uploading 640X90 pixel images with their URL.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 3.53.50 PM.png



Migrating Races to RunSignUp – Runner Self Serve

MigrationWe have had a number of races move to RunSignUp from other systems. To ease the move, we provide a way of importing past runners. This allows you to do year over year comparisons. It also allows you to move races in the middle of registration – so some runners were entered in another system and some in RunSignUp (this is also useful for having two registration systems open at the same time).

Year over year Race Registration ComparisonOf course there are many small issues that you need to worry about when you do this. We recently announced some improvements in claiming accounts (people who registered in another system can claim their account so they can make changes).

Today we are releasing another refinement. For an imported runner who claims their account they can now manage their registration. If your race allows event transfer runners can now do this and keep all of their existing giveaway options and add-ons (as long as they are available in both events). For example, I initially signed up for the 10K on another registration system.  I can claim my account on RunSignUp and then switch to the 5K. When I do that, my Spaghetti Dinner Add-On stays with my registration. I can also get credit for that Add-On to trade it for the Race Jacket and get the $10 I paid for the dinner off the price of the jacket.

For Multi-City Race Series, this is also convenient. Participants can be easily transferred from one city to another by the race director and carry over all of their information.

Enhanced Self-Serve Add-On Management

We have added some big refinements to allow race directors to customize how runners can manage their add-ons.

This let’s a runner remove an item (note there is not a refund for these), and buy additional add-ons (if they remove items and buy other items in the same transaction they do get credit for the removed items).

Here is the setup page:

Participant Management for Add-ons

The setup allows you to set an overall policy, or on a per add-on basis. In the above example it has been turned on and it allows runners to make a change up to 1 day prior to the event.

You can also customize this on a per add-on basis. There are three add-ons shown:

  • Send bib. This is set to a custom setting, and it is NOT allowed to be managed. This means a runner can not come in after registration and pay for their bib to be sent to them.
  • Pre-Pay Race Day Pickup. This is set to use the overall settings, which means that people can buy this add-on until 1 day before the event.
  • Upgrade to VIP. This allows a person to both upgrade as well as remove this add-on.

The option not shown is to allow people to buy, but not remove. That would be done by simply unchecking the box by “Allow participant to remove already purchased add-ons.”

Reserved Entries Upgrade

We have made a major upgrade to Reserved Entries. These are useful for many use cases:

  • Invite specific participants to register for your race even after it is closed or full.
  • Set a special price for a certain person – for example an elite athlete.
  • An alternative to the Loyalty Program to invite past participants and potentially offer them a special price.

The new features include:

  • New, easier to use User Interface
  • Upload a CSV list of people to invite (we require a CSV with the EXACT headers “first_name”, “last_name”, and “email”)
  • Set Event Pricing specifically for each Invitation
  • Search Invites and check status
  • Download Invites in CSV

Here is the new User Interface and setup, which is fairly self explanatory:.  The top part let’s you select participants to invite (note the new “Upload CSV):

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 12.38.03 PM.png


The bottom part lets you customize parameters like how long the invitation is good for, and any special pricing:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 12.38.18 PM.png

RunSignUp – Built for the Long Run

I (Bob) have taken a bunch of vacation time and had minor surgery that required time off, so I’ve had time to do a lot of reading (Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (great play!) and Ben Bernanke’s Courage to Act and a bunch of web stuff). I tend toward tech, business and economics reading and the collection of readings only reinforced the guiding principles and structure we have put in place at RunSignUp. Creating a long term organization with a synergistic balance of meeting the needs of Employees, Customers and Owners.

The key problem that many organizations have is they are structured too much around short term thinking. DealBook had their conference this past week, which included this interview with Stanley Drunkenmiller. One of his best points (start around 12:50 into the video with the money shot around 13:40 was that IBM is meticulous about hitting their quarterly numbers while Jeff Bezos at Amazon has missed 9 Quarterly Earnings Estimates in the past 19 quarters, but doesn’t give a damn. Amazon stock is up 20X and IBM is flat over the past 10 years and is now worth 2.5X what IBM is worth. DealBook also put this together in a nice tidy graphic that explains why the system reinforces the short term notion:

Short Term

When we created RunSignUp about 6 years ago, I was not sure what would happen and if customers would like what we built. By 2012 we became convinced that we were building evolution-of-capitalismsomething that could be very useful to the running and endurance community. I also met Alan Jones of RunScore and Roger Bradshaw of The Race Director during that time period, and very much respected them both for building small, focused businesses around their passion that have served the endurance community for many years. I became focused on building a long term organization even though we were very tiny.

I have been lucky to be part of a number of fast growing companies and have studied and learned different approaches to building companies. With RunSignUp, we decided we wanted to create something for the long run. We focused on several key elements to the company:

  • Long Term Technology – make infrastructure investments (not just bells and whistles) to make it fast, scalable, easy to modify. Commit to re-writing code to make the system continuously using current technology. Build around the idea of Continuous Delivery of code every day – not once a year releases. Build an open platform where we could work easily with partners.

  • Long Term People – look for people with passion for our target market and their areas of specialization. Structure the organization so it is built on trust and responsibility in a decentralized way. Think about long term employees and succession planning.

  • Long Term Customers – give customers a real say in what we are doing. Track what they want and deliver continuously. Admit we don’t do everything and we need to learn. Put in place the resources to help customers help themselves (self serve and open platform). Make sure we hire ahead of the curve to make sure we support our customers well. Make sure we get customers coming back every year.

  • Long Term Partners – timers, running stores, running clubs and other technology providers all provide a mechanism for RunSignUp to mingle our offerings with their offerings to create a better solution for the races and participants.
  • Long Term Financial – no short term investment. The financial incentive is for long term annual cash flow.

  • Long Term Governance – live up to the ideal of a three leg stool model of Employees, Customers and Owners being equal partners. Empower the Customer Advisory Board more as the company gains critical mass.

Long Term Technology
In 2012 we took on a silly project to many, but one that helped to fundamentally define us. We saw race registration systems fail on mass openings and determined that we should rebuild our infrastructure to handle 50,000 registrations in 10 minutes. We moved to a massively scalable architecture on Amazon AWS, wrote a load testing framework capable of emulating 50,000 users (it became RedLine13), redesigned our code to include multiple tiers and redundancy. You can read a white paper on the original design and this blog on our current implementation.

This project would have been ridiculous from a short term view since the ENTIRE year of 2012 we only had 80,000 registrations, and we had built a system that could handle 50,000 registrations in 7 minutes (we are over-achievers). But we are thinking long term, and knew that some day a customer would want to have that functionality. And if we built a robust system and had a race open up we could sleep soundly.

The other key technical thing we did that year was to put in place a mechanism for rapid development and deployment of code changes without bringing the system down. Last year we did close to 2,000 releases of our software without anyone noticing any interruption of service. We also put in place multiple test servers on AWS that our multiple developers can use on overlapping projects. This allows us to break apart projects into many small parts that can be included in our service when they are ready.

We view Technology as the key thing we offer. Having a nice customer service person is great, but means nothing if the system won’t allow them to help you.

Long Term People
We look to hire people that want to work in this space. Most importantly, we look for people of extraordinary talents (Stephen is the epitome of this). If we give them great challenges and responsibility for meeting them along with fair compensation then they can stay at RunSignUp for a long time.

We believe in compensating our people well. We pay decent salaries and have a Profit Sharing program. Our benefits include 100% company paid health insurance and HSA accounts, Simple IRA where we match 3%, Short and Long Term Disability plan, computers, cell phone and Internet coverage especially if people work from home.

We realize our customers are actually paying for these benefits. And if our customers like the people supporting them with technology and service, then they should be willing to make sure they are paid well. This type of almost automated feedback loop is key in creating a virtuous long term cycle unlike the short term cycle shown at the start of this blog.

One of the other things you will note about RunSignUp is that we have a mix of ages. And the 20 and 30 Somethings are very likely to lead this company in 20 years.

Long Term Customers
We want long term customers. One of the secrets to our business model is that it costs a lot to win a customer and much less to hold onto them. So customers become more profitable the longer they stay with you and can pay back that initial investment.

More importantly, it is a whole lot nicer to come into work when you have a good relationship with your customers. Oh, and customers have a much better experience if they are happy!

Long Term Partners
We have a flourishing Partner Program that has been one of the keys to our success. For example, hundreds of timers now combine our technology and technology they for timing and scoring to make races increasingly interactive and social.

We built our technology platform with a completely open API so other technology providers could interact. We know we can not build everything ourselves and so our platform is “plug and play”. This enables use with existing systems and encourages new developments by others.

Long Term Financial
I own 100% of RunSignUp. I’ve put a fair amount of money into the building of the business and have not taken any compensation yet. 6 years is a long time, but I am fortunate with some of my other previous and current activities. I expect 2016 will be the first year I am able to take some compensation, and my wife is happy about that 🙂

I will earn a good return because I am looking at the Alan Jones model of hopefully working at RunSignUp for another 20+ years (I am 58 now – 20 years younger than Alan). From an economic standpoint, I can then look at the cash flow generated from the business as my financial payback for my investment. Since I am a patient investor, unlike some of the investor types in the feedback loop above, there are no rush scenarios.

For example, I had expected to start paying myself from the business in 2015, but we had the opportunity to bring Roger and James on board by acquiring The Race Director and RaceJoy. We also had the opportunity to help the Boston Film move forward. These long term investments will bring a great deal of innovation and fulfillment to the running community, and will be paid back over the long term.

Long Term Governance
As stated above, I believe in organizations being structured around the concept of Employees, Customers and Owners being equal partners. To date because of our size and youth, we have only made early progress on institutionalizing this. We created a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) in the summer of 2014. We meet the Monday before our annual Symposium. This past year we agreed on having rotating 2 year assignments (so half the board is new each year).

Today the CAB acts as a mechanism to get customer feedback into the company. As time progresses, it will become more like a Board of Directors for the company with more and more meaningful strategic input.

I also think about progression planning. Mostly from the perspective of what happens in 20 years when I might not be able to be as engaged as I am today, but also what would happen is Stephen or I or any of our folks were not able to productively work. We have plans in place for all of that, which is important if we are truly building a long term organization of Employees, Customers and Owners.

While most of our customers only use us a few times over a few months each year, we view these interactions as part of a long term relationship. It is our responsibility to continue to provide technology options for you to improve your races. With the fast pace of technological advancement with Cloud, Mobile, Social, Advertising, Marketing, Race Day Technology, there is a lot of work for us to do for many, many years. We want to make sure you can continue to count on us for those few months each year when you ramp up promoting your race and then having a great Race Day. We look forward to many decades of a fun, productive partnership!

Next Generation Event Series

swampWe are heading to the RunningUSA The Next Evolution Conference in Chicago June 28-29. RunSignUp has a number of customers who manage next generation event series – mud runs, obstacle course races, color runs, glow runs, night runs, etc. These are typically themed multi-city events that have a mixture of emphasis on either challenge or fun activities. There is significant investment by these companies to put on excellent and entertaining productions. These series have developed very advanced marketing and customer service Blacklight Runstrategies that allow them to have thousands of runners in each of 20+ cities.

RunSignUp has worked with a number of next generation series to develop features that are beneficial to them, but can be useful Bubble Runto many traditional races. Here is a list of some of the highlights in RunSignUp available now with many of them developed from ideas given to us from this segment of the industry.


  • Daily Payments for registration and monthly partner revenue shares gets your money to you directly from the credit card network.
  • Aggressive revenue share of processing fees based on volume of business.
  • Set custom processing fees for each race or at the partner level.
  • Partner receives any extra pricing of processing fees.


  • Cross Race Reporting at Partner (view of all races across a race series) Level to see Week-to-Week, Month-to-Month and Year-Over-Year registration counts and transaction revenue amounts.Daily Report ComparisonYear over Year Registration Totals
  • Search Participants across all races level for any registration status (active, refunded, cleared, transferred, etc)Cross-race participant Search

Facebook SignUpFacebook and Marketing

RunSignUp has very advanced (and legal!) integrations with Facebook. These include:

  • Auto-share capability on customer check-out.
  • Select Facebook Page you ManageFacebook Ads Pixel support allows you to track ad spending and real completed registrations.
  • Integrated Facebook Registration App allows participants to sign in directly inside Facebook.

In addition, we have a variety of other marketing tools:

  • Drop-Out Report – allows you to see people who did not complete registration so you can do remarketing to them.
  • Google Financial DataAd Tracking – Insert their own Adroll, Facebook, Adwords, Twitter and other codes directly into the back-end of each race for detailed registration analytics
  • Your Google Analytics Account can be plugged in directly to the back-end of each race for detailed registration analytics and ecommerce data tracking
  • RunSignUp auto-tracks e-commerce data by source as shown in the report on the right
  • FREE EMail Marketing. Upload unlimited email addresses and send unlimited number of emails. Ability to enter your own HTML code to customize the look and feel.
  • Coupon ROIPowerful Coupon capabilities.
    • Assign and track coupons across all races.
    • Use Tags to categorize coupons codes for reporting
    • ROI analysis on a per code or tag basis
    • Upload unlimited Groupon and Living Social coupons. NO REGISTRATION FEE for registrations that happen at $0 on RunSignUp – so you are not paying a double processing fee for Groupon type of traffic.
  • Group and Team Capabilities
    • Special pricing – by team size, by registration group size, fixed amount per team, etc.
    • Great for relays
    • Social Sharing of Group and Team pages
    • Easy self serve for Captains, switching Captains or Multi-Captains
  • Loyalty Program to offer special registration and reduced pricing to repeat customers
  • Sponsor capabilities – offer integrated coupons on check-out and confirmation emails

Participant Management

Race Management companies report a drop in customer service overhead by 50-80% when switching to RunSignUp. A lot of this is due to the powerful, yet simple self-serve capabilities in RunSignUp as well as the robustness and stability of the platform.

Race directors have a variety of participant management options they can turn on for each race. Turning on the participant manage options gives participants some flexibility with their registration, while helping to take a large amount of customer service work off the race’s plate.

This means participants can self-serve the following functions without ever having to call or email your company:

  • Enable Refunds
  • Event Transfers (distance/wave changes)
  • Bib Exchange (transfer OR gift registration another participant)
  • Deferrals (Defer registration to next year- for free or a fee!)
  • Giveaway Management – update giveaways or shirt sizes
  • Add-on Management – Change or purchase add-ons after registration
  • Question Management – Update custom question answers
  • Race to Race Transfers – Admins have the ability to transfer a participant from one race to another on the back-end of the system
  • Admin Initiation of Bib Exchange – Race Directors can initiate the “bib exchange” process on the back-end of the system. (Participants can complete all transfers directly from their RunSignUp registration profiles, but this is a nice feature to have for those very “busy” or confused registrants!)Bib Exchange

Easy Migration or Two-System Registration

Most companies have moved to RunSignUp from other registration and check-in systems. This transition has been greatly smoothed with our powerful import capabilities. We even have customers who use another system for some of their races that are locked into a contract, yet import the data into RunSignUp to use our powerful Check-In App.

  • Simple import of previously registered participants when using a double registration system or moving to RunSignUp or using the RunSignUp Check-In App.
  • Bulk import offline registrations with waiver status and complete registration data for large organizations.

Streamlined Check-In and packet pick-up

  • Ability to insert “Registration ID” barcodes into emails for streamlined check-in
    • Scan registration barcode from confirmation email
    • Quickly check-in participant, view registration details and assign bib number
    • Check-in screen automatically clears and is ready for the next scanCheck In
  • Since the check-in app is in real time, participants can register online and check-in a few seconds later at the pack pick-up. This helps to cut down lines for new registration, since participant can still register from their smart phones!
  • New OffLine Check-In App coming in July! This will enable the check-in to happen even without Internet connections. Plus there are greatly enhanced features for printing labels or receipts.
  • Expo and On-Site Registration Kiosk mode – streamlined registration process for onsite registration and waiver signing:Check In Untitled1Kiosk


  • Multiple waiver options (checkbox, initials, full-name, date, etc) can be chosen during the online registration processWaiver
  • Easy access to view signed participant waivers with name, signing time and IP addressWaiver Time Stamp
  • Ability to force each registrant to sign their own waiver (this setting can be toggled on/off, depending on your race needs)
    • If turned on- ability to send waiver reminder emails to participants with “Un-Signed” waivers
    • Participants can then sign their wavier through their registration profile


  • Integrated Email system which can be used to send additional participant information with mapped fields for participant specific check-in informationEMail Registration ID Barcode
  • Email Lists are dynamic – You can schedule an email weeks in advance, check the participant list and the system will send to all registered participants at the time the email is sent out!
  • Upload Series logo at the partner level, so race confirmations will be branded with series logo (instead of RunSignUp)
  • Ability to customize all emails that are sent out through the RunSignUp system (confirmation email, create a team, join a team, donation confirmation, fundraising notifications, etc)

Why RunSignUp for Race Event Management Companies

WhyWe are trying to win a race event management company and I was writing up a summary email on why they should use RunSignUp, and thought I would share it.

  1. The pricing is pretty competitive and allows you set your own fees
  2. You should be able to drive more revenue with easier and more complete registration
    1. Mobile (47% of registrations on RunSignUp are from mobile devices)
    2. Facebook App allows users to register right in Facebook
    3. Widgets on your website and your race websites drive better retention and clicks on your site.
  3. Better Marketing Tools
    1. Free EMail Marketing (that will get much easier and much better ROI tracking by end of 2014)
    2. ROI for Coupons, Emails, Adwords, Adroll, Facebook will help you figure out how to spend your marketing dollars most effectively
    3. Strongest and simplest Groups and Team capabilities that helps drive participation
    4. Referral Program built in
    5. Cooperative Marketing programs built in can generate additional promotion channels or revenue opportunities
  4. Efficiency
    1. Better Participant Management for runner self serve as well as admin on your side for event swapping, bib exchange, refunds, deferments, etc.
    2. Better financial reporting that meets your needs exactly and will save time and reduce discrepancies you have today
    3. Far better marketing tools to increase the return on your Marketing $pend as well as the efficiency of your marketing team
  5. Best and fastest growing technology platform.  We are simply outpacing all other registration platforms – just browse our blog.
    1. High Availability
    2. This means more features and differentiation for you and your races
    3. We respond quickly to customer input – see the many examples
  6. Momentum
    1. RunSignUp is the fastest growing registration platform, so you will be partnering with a winner that can help expand your reach

In summary, RunSignUp is built to help you drive more total revenue in addition to being a very cost effective processing fee platform.

Create User and Race API Extensions

RunSignUp APIWarning: This is for developers.

We have extended our OpenAPI to allow for Race and User Creation and editing.

This API is being used by a couple of advanced users who have their own applications that have a need for creating races and users outside of the RunSignUp user interface. This is a powerful capability that allows a great deal of flexibility for other software applications who want to take advantage of RunSignUp’s powerful capabilities across areas like participant management, results, notifications, etc.

These API’s require additional security measures as we need to protect unauthorized use or attack. Please contact us to discuss why you need access to these API’s and we can give you the proper levels of authorization. You can get a testing account for via self serve here. Note that other API calls are available with a self serve authorization.

In other API news, we have added caching to OAuth. This increases performance for some of our technical partners who have high volume needs, as well as provides a fast experience for users with our technology partner systems.

Create Race

Edit Race API

Club Membership Management

Club ManagementWe have added the capability for a club member to manage their membership better. Now you can:

  • Renew Membership
  • Add Members to a Family type of membership that allows multiple members
  • Remove Members from a Family type of membership
  • Cancel a Membership (no refunds)
  • Cancel and then Change to a New Membership level.

This is all done from the Club Member’s own profile – improving the self serve capability so Club Directors are not stuck with all of the change management!

June Race Director Newsletter

Multi-Day Races with Super and Sub Events

Large races have moved to multi-day events that span a whole weekend with numerous events to serve a wide variety of their communities.  Registration can be complicated to manage for these huge events.  There are a variety of races, times, waves for people to sign up for – and it can be confusing.  In addition, you may want to have “Super Events” where a runner may participate in the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon.

We now make this very simple to set up for race directors.  Even better, it makes a much smoother experience for runners to sign up! For example, you can now have people signup for a specific corral in your marathon as shown in this diagram.  The same can be done with Super-Events so when runnera sign up for “The Whole Enchilda”, they know they are in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon.

This also makes administration a lot easier.  Runners are able to easily move between events (if you choose to enable this feature).  Also, things like bib assignment are easier.  For example, you can issue one bib number to your “Whole Enchilda” runners to use across all 4 races.  And reports work well – you can view all the Marathon runners or just the sub-3:00 corral.

Runner Self Serve

Many races spend a lot of time with the special requests that come in from runners.  Switch from the Half Marathon to the 5K because of injury, get a refund, switch bib numbers with a friend, etc.

We introduced comprehensive Participant Management last year.  Since then we have gotten a lot of great ideas on how we can make this easier.  At the end of May we released our second version, making it simpler than ever for runners to self-manage these requests.  We also made similar upgrades for race directors to manage these requests as well.  And we give you full control over which features to enable, how much to charge and when to disable things.  If you are feeling the stress of managing runner requests, talk with one of our account reps about how we can help.

Race Director Testimonial

We received this very, very nice note from Melina Tate of The Middle Half Marathon. I think it represents the fears and joy of many of our customers who have jumped on our fast growing service:

“We are THRILLED with RunSignUp! I was a little nervous switching to a new registration service, but now I am spreading the word to all of my race director friends about your company. The personal customer service early Saturday morning was over the top, and very appreciated! Being able to offer coupon codes to our sponsors and charities has been life-changing. Usually we have hundreds of paper forms that we have to enter ourselves (“is that an ‘I’ or a lowercase “L” or the number 1?”); this year we had 21. The fact that it is Mobile phone-friendly was a plus for our always-on-the-move participants! I could go on and on and on….. thanks so much for helping to make us look good!”

Thanks for the kind words!  We will keep working hard to keep your trust.

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