As someone who races a lot, I’ve figured out what I personally like and don’t in a race. Of course, I understand, races are never geared towards one racer, but certain qualities will lead to more runners coming back.
Similarly, some qualities will make me never sign up for your race or even recommend it.
First and foremost, it takes a long time to prepare a road race. It takes much longer than the actual length of the run, and most directors have blood, sweat and probably tears in their races. With the new boom of “fun” and “themed” races and regular timed races have declined. However, just thinking, there are a few key components that separate the good from the not so good races.
I’m neither elite nor a celebrity so in reality, who really cares about what I like in a race right?
So enough about that…What makes a road race good?
Enough Parking and Bathrooms
Races should have plenty of bathrooms. If the hosting facility does not have enough bathrooms, porta-potties should be rented. The last thing racers should be worried about is the bathroom or the parking situation.
Like any runner, I like unusual things. I have close to 50 plain t-shirts. I donate 90% of them. If your race provides anything other than a plain t-shirt, I’m already excited. Even if it’s a long sleeve shirt or a neat graphic, I’m more likely to wear the shirt. Bonus points if it’s a hoodie or jacket. Many races can get away with charging more for a hoodie or jacket.
Good Course Marking:
I’ve run several races that I’ve wondered if I’m running the correct way. I’ve also run races that I’ve been directed the wrong way by a course marshal. Last month my husband was led the wrong way at a race. Yes, I realize at the end of the day, it’s the runner’s responsibility to know the race course. However, the race marshals/volunteers should be aware.
Age Group Awards:
In this day and age, it’s important to give some age group award or recognition. The pure joy of a racer who receives an age group award is usually contagious. Runners remember when there is no award ceremony.
Post Race Food and Drinks:
Believe it or not, I ran a race last summer where the end temperature was over 80 degrees, and there was absolutely no water or drinks for the runners. Luckily I had brought my own Nalgene, but that was dangerous. Even just a few bananas, Gatorade, and snacks go a long way.
- USATF Certified: While this typically applies to longer distances and those looking to qualify for Boston, having a recognized approved course often makes the difference of whether I chose the race or a different one.
- Lead Cyclists for Both Men and Woman: If there is a lead cyclist for the overall male, I do think there should be a lead cyclist for the overall female. The same goes for “breaking the tape”. I’ve run races that the lead male has had three cyclists the female has none. Do I think it’s fair? Not really…
This isn’t an “end all” list, and it’s tailored towards aspects I prefer in a race.
Questions for you:
What makes a quality Road Race in your opinion?
What is a dream race for you?