A letter to event organisers – what I want from a running event

I recently ran in Melbourne’s City2Sea. And it got me thinking about all the different elements that go into making a really good running event. I appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into them, so am in no way undermining the complexity of staging such an event. However there are a few things that make it a bit more pleasant for the running public who enter.

1. Race bib collection
The fact I had to physically go into Melbourne to pick up my race bib the day before the event was pretty annoying. I live an hour from Melbourne – close enough to drive in the morning of the event but far enough way that I don’t want to have to go in the day before, just to pick up my bib. Having the option to either pick it up on the day or have it sent out beforehand makes life so much easier. And yes, I’m willing to pay for postage 🙂

2. Be fair with your cut off times
I’m not the fastest runner in the world – I’m at the back of the pack in most events I enter and I’m ok with that. Knowing my limits, I always check out cut off times for events and previous results to make sure I’ll be able to participate at my own pace and not have to be stressed about reaching the finish line before being swept.

At City2Sea, the overall cut off time was generous and easily allowed walkers – no problem. However there were other segment cut off times for different parts of the course that didn’t tally up with this – eg, the 10km cut off was 15 minutes before the 7.7km cut off. Reaching the 10km point late would see you diverted, rather than ending your run, but it still annoyed me. I’ve paid the same as everyone else and want to run the course that everyone else runs. If that can’t happen because of outside factors (eg, the need to open roads), think about amending the overall cut off to make that clear to those who enter, rather than making me read the fine print.

3. Aid stations matter. A lot.
This is something I have to commend City2Sea for doing well. The drinks stations were organised, efficient and, mostly importantly, full of drinks! I’ve been in events before where there was little left at the back of the pack so I appreciated seeing smiling volunteers and tables full of Gatorade and water for all runners, regardless of our times. The added bonus of Gatorade and a banana at the end was also much appreciated and not something you see consistently at events.

What are your tips for event organisers?

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