Dear Race Director,
Here are a few things I’d like you to do.
1 — Rule number 1
You should have a rule number 1. It should be something Judge Dread like such as “I am the law”. If you want to be more verbose about it you could say “I am the Race Director, I decide who wins what, who starts and who doesn’t, who gets disqualified or taken out and I can give you a reason for this, or not”.
Over the years I’ve seen race directors tear their hair out (ever wonder why RD’s are disproportionately bald?) trying to write a legal document which they can fall back on in the event of someone misbehaving. Instead of trying to create a watertight document about all the possibilities of having to DQ someone just keep it simple with “carry this, run this way, don’t let your crew do this” and then a reminder of rule number 1. You should DQ people if you want to, not because you’ve created some text that says you must.
Of course, if you start DQing people for spurious reasons you are not going to get people to sign up again, but that’s your call. It’s your race. The world doesn’t need more legal documents.
2 — Make some money
Make some money out of it and don’t be ashamed. I feel a bit guilty nowadays of doing a cheap as chips event, I wonder “How can the RD be getting any gains from the risks they are taking here?”
I don’t mind paying more for a nice coffee so that the barista can go an enjoy a nice beer. I don’t mind paying for a nice beer if that means the brewer can go and enjoy a guitar lesson. Think of yourselves as value creators just like anything else that is created and sold. You are not a charity and even the existence of arm compressors and quasi-hydrogenated water suggests that runners don’t need charity.
The reason products get good is because people can earn a living off dedicating themselves to making them better. Imagine how good an event director you could be if you could live off it?
3 — Stop trying to cater for everyone
Put on the race you want to put on. If you see a nice 50 mile route and want to make a 50 mile race out of it don’t bust a gut trying to wrangle in a 50k or a 100 miler out of it. There are plenty of other events like that people can do. Focus on the one race you do want to put on.
There’s no Hardrock 50, No Comrades 100, No Ultra Tour Du Semi-Mont Blanc. No Half Marathon Des Sab…. on no, wait.
4 — Create a festival atmosphere
There is something strangely gratifying finishing a race where no one in the world apart from maybe a tired race director even knows why you are there. You shake a hand, get a medal and then head off to a train station trying to avoid being confused for a homeless person. That said there is a huge opportunity to create a festival atmosphere around a race. I don’t get out much, it takes a lot for me to get the weekend off to go running somewhere. If this could be combined with a social event that would make my experience much better. There should be more of this.
5 — Don’t mention the UTMB
If anywhere on the first paragraph of your race description you say “It has yadda yadda UTMB points” I will think your race does not have enough to stand on it’s own merits and will probably dismiss it.
6 — Be nice to elite runners
Some runners work harder than the rest of us, they sacrifice more than the rest of us and ipso facto they end up running much faster than us. They are great to watch and great role models for the rest of us. I think they deserve more free places in your races. You should let in anyone you want (rule 1).
7 — Timewasters
Don’t waste your time responding to runners asking what’s the best fucking shoes to wear. Spend your time focusing on the adult runners instead.
8 — Stop being the bestest
Don’t try to be the most hyperbolicalistest race. Tag lines like “Brutal”, “Hardest” and “Toughest” have passed their sell-by dates. Don’t see yourself in competition with other races, there are plenty of people out there, the market is growing. You don’t need to call your race better than another to get entries. Sell it on its unique properties.
9 — No more “DNF”s
In the race results put “RTC” — “Refused to continue” instead. Give the ownership of a persons race back to the person rather than “things”.