In its second year, The RCSH Warrior 100 is a fundraiser to purchase library materials for Russell County High School. As the media specialist for the library, I came up with the idea last year and raised a couple hundred dollars after the smoke cleared. I was told that is good, because most cycling events barely break even their first year. I learned some valuable lessons that I am hoping to fix for this year’s event, being held on October 26th. Every year, I want to be trending upward. Here are some things to consider when considering and placing an endurance event into action:
- Know what you want to spend in promotion, swag and food . . . and stick to your limit. T-shirts are a big deal for many endurance people, but they can cripple your budget. Set a cut off date for “guaranteed t-shirt,” so that you will KNOW how many to order. Finishing medals are a bit tricky, but if you have them engraved without a date, you can always use them again the next year and have a better idea of how many to order the following year. Food can be tricky, but unopened stuff can be taken back for a refund . . . that’s if you did not get it through sponsorship.
- Talk to businesses that have some kind of ties to your target audience. Businesses today are bombarded with sponsorship requests, especially in small or rural areas. Hitting every business in the area with a shotgun approach is not a good idea. Go to the ones who have a connection to your organization and have a reason on hand WHY you are asking them specifically. Have reasons or lists of what they get out of sponsoring your event, not just advertising their business.
- Be unique. Why come to your event? How is it different from all the other similar events? Are the awards unique? Is the route different than the usual thing? Is something offered to all different types of participants? How are the funds being spent that are raised? How safe is your event? Ask yourself these kind of questions or open this discussion up to friends and family for creative ideas.
- Make sure that all of your volunteers are well informed and have purpose for what they are doing. The last thing you want is for someone to give of their time on a weekend and not really have some kind of purpose for being there. Telling them to just “jump in” will not cut it, unless someone shows up that your were not expecting. Even when that happens, have the pop-up volunteer join someone who has been assigned somewhere and assist that person.
- Start on time and make your road markings VERY clear. When the event is set to start at 8 AM, that is when it starts. When marking the course, make sure that you use signage and bright spray paint to mark ensure there is no doubt when a turn is coming up. Nothing is more frustrating than making a wrong turn in an event and having to backtrack. Also, use signs to let participants know when refreshments stations are coming up. Usually a half of a mile or a mile is a good indicator, so that it gives the participant time to decide on stopping or not.
- Encouragement and assistance at refreshment stations and the finish line are crucial. Participants are working hard to do their best and are usually tired when stopping in at an aid station. Tell your volunteers to be cheerful, encouraging and helpful to ALL participants. At the finish line, be just as excited for the last finisher as you were the first finisher. Even if someone cannot finish and has to be picked up, be excited and encouraging to them for putting the effort and attempting to finish. People will not always remember specifics of an event, but they’ll remember how they were treated.
Have fun planning and directing your event. Do not make it so stressful that you cannot enjoy it as the event coordinator. Ask for help. People are willing to go above and beyond if you ask them for help. Do not try to do everything on your own. Continue to envisualize how great the event is going to be!