I’ve got good news for you, race directors! The only difference between operating a very large event versus a smaller event is the scale and scope of operations, namely the amount of human resources and the budget to pull it off. This means that whether your race is a 100-person 5k or one of the country’s largest off-road bicycle events like the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, you can still follow the same outline for effective endurance event management!

When asked about how I manage a 40-mile race with more than 2,000 participants, I often refer to the 21 “P’s of Endurance Event Management”. Race planning isn’t rocket science, but it does involve constant attention to the many details of race day operations. While the P’s below do not cover all of event operations, they provide race directors with a springboard for their own plan of action. Each area should be considered with participants, staff, volunteers, sponsors and spectators in mind.

  1. Parking

Plan for extra parking space at both the start and finish line. Consider offering a shuttle or renting bike racks to diminish the amount of parking needed.

  1. Participants

Participants are the key to your success! They should be given the highest level of customer service in all areas of event operations. Put your athletes in the limelight and go beyond just a cool finisher’s medal.

  1. Partnerships

Build strong, compatible relationships early on with groups and individuals who will help take ownership of various aspects of the event.

  1. Pasta

Pasta, pizza, pop! This category includes all food and beverage functions, including any food and water stations along the course and vendors in the event area. You could also consider a post-race party to add to your event experience.

  1. Personality

No one remembers a bland personality. Bring life into your event by offering a unique and memorable experience.

  1. Personnel

This includes all organization of key race staff and volunteer support. Be sure to have enough manpower to manage each aspect of your race and set clear responsibilities for each party. (Learn more about volunteer management here).

  1. Philosophy

This is the vision behind your event! Determine a special philosophy focused on why you are hosting your event and what your long-term vision is to build customer loyalty. Be sure to include a high level of customer service in your event philosophy.

  1. Phones

How are your staff and volunteers going to communicate with one another? Plan for a variety of communication strategies including telephone networks and radios.

  1. Planning

You are not done planning until race day is over. Start your event planning far in advance and establish regular staff meetings to discuss the important aspects of all event operations.

  1. Politics and Permissions

Be sure to gain advance permission and race permits for use of event venues and/or roads from municipal bodies and private landowners. Community involvement, through charity or partnerships, is a good way to improve your goodwill and chances of success.

  1. Porta-potties

Porta-potties and other services for participants are important considerations for both start and finish line needs.

  1. Power

Plan in advance for all power requirements and resources for race day. Be sure to have a back-up plan in case of a power outage.

  1. Precision

This refers to attention to detail in race day timing, everything from when your waves start to when the awards ceremony is.

  1. Prevention

Be sure to take important safety considerations into account. This includes the amount and type of medical services available and planning emergency protocols and evacuation routes.

  1. Prizes

Don’t just recognize those with prime performance. Plan a way to show your appreciation for staff, volunteers, and sponsors.

  1. Professionalism

This one is simple. Strive to manage event functions in a professional manner and ensure your staff and volunteers are doing the same.

  1. Profit

Always keep an eye on your bottom line. Race directors need to make a reasonable profit to sustain event promotions and fund future endeavors. Be sure to think ahead and create a race budget.

  1. Promotion and Public Relations

Develop a variety of promotional efforts for before, during, and after your event to generate interest and attract sponsors.

  1. Protection

Be sure to secure event liability insurance to protect your organization, volunteers, and any related entities.

  1. Public Address

Ensure you have a public address system in place to keep everyone informed and entertained throughout the event. This can include an announcer, sound system, music and public service announcements.

  1. Punctuality

While a last-minute management style can still produce a functioning event, punctuality in dealing with all areas of endurance event management will add to the professional structure and ensure everything runs smoothly on race day.

1983 Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival The 21 P’s of Endurance Event ManagementOnce again, these 21 P’s are just the foundation for more in-depth planning. Start early; continue the dialogue on the P’s, and stay focused on the ultimate goal of producing an event that will be appreciated not just by participants, but also by the staff, volunteers, sponsors and local community.