Does your race end at the finish line? If the answer is ‘yes’, it may be time to rethink your race planning. Participants now expect a full event experience and a fun post-race party is critical to keeping up with the industry. Before lamenting the extra planning, consider the benefits: the post-race party lets you celebrate with participants, connect with the community, and attract more racers, more revenue, and more exposure!

So how do you rock the post-race and stop people from racing home? Add these to dos to your race director checklist and see what happens:

Let Them Eat Cake

Post-Race Party Race Director 2Or anything else for that matter. Food is the #1 reason people stick around after a race; it’s needed to refuel and is great motivation to get to the finish line! You can provide a buffet around a select item or cuisine type, like New England’s Lobsterman Triathlon’s massive lobster bake, or you can invite local restaurants and food trucks to camp out and sell their wares. A buffet may give your race a unique edge and give participants more bang for their buck, but the latter provides more diverse options and a lot less clean-up for your team. Either way, try to provide food that is high in protein and see if you can find a company willing to provide food in exchange for a sponsorship advertising.

Imbibe & Unwind

One beer can make a big difference! While water should always be available both during and after a race, we suggest offering a few more ‘adult’ options for athletes to enjoy afterwards. Some races make it part of their shtick, like the ladies-only race that provides wine and chocolate, but one free drink will just as easily please participants. No matter how much alcohol is involved, check with the local government to make sure you have the proper permits and prepare a protocol for handling those who have had too much. The finish line doesn’t need to become a rave, but a beer tent where people can socialize and share their event experiences can add to the appeal (and Facebook photo shares) of your race.

Are They Not Entertained?

Because if they’re not, they’ll grab their grub and head home. You don’t need to host the rock concert of the century; you just need to give them something to do! If you are looking into music, check out local bands as they’re usually pretty cooperative and cost-effective. Just make sure the music is family-friendly and not loud enough to drown out conversation.

Another popular option is the expo. It can be athlete-focused with race gear and products or it can have more of a “community fair” vibe with restaurants, retailers, non-profits, and anyone else looking to get out there and be part of the fun! Share a media kit with potential vendors so they know who will be attending and encourage them to host games, contests, or sweepstakes at their own booths. Some races will even offer athletes free massages or lead them in a post-race stretch!

Finally, remember that friends and family often join participants for the post-race. Face painting, inflatable obstacle courses, photo booths, dancing, and games like Frisbee or cornhole are all great family-friendly options.

The Devil’s in the Details

The post-race party is all fun and games until something goes wrong. Post-race parties have the potential to get quite large, especially when friends and family (or the whole community!) are invited. Keep control by determining max capacity ahead of time, fencing off the area, and setting clear rules on prohibited items and behavior. Spread out post-race activities and pick-up areas as much as possible to alleviate traffic and keep people moving throughout the event. If it’s cash-only, let attendees know in advance and either provide an ATM or instructions to the nearest one. And of course, post signs out the wazoo so attendees never have to second-guess where the bathrooms or beer tents are! You can use social media on race day to share this type of information in real-time. How happy will your athletes be if you can tell them which port-a-potties have the shortest lines and the most toilet paper?!

A Few Bonus Tips

People already feel awesome after a race and the post-race party will only get them more amped for your next event. If possible, have a station at the event for participants and party-goers to use online registration kiosks and/or sign up to receive more information on your next race. Also, think about selling extra gear after the race so that athletes who forgot a jacket won’t have to choose between freezing and having fun.

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to turning a good race into a great one!  Contact us for any road race management advice.