The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are coming in hot. And with them, countless Jingle Bell Jogs and Resolution Runs, all around the world. We’re big fans of holiday races, for a few reasons. And we want to be sure you get on top of your 2018 holiday race planning, starting now. Here’s what we love about holiday races, why early planning is important, and a handful of ways we can help.

Why Holiday Races Rock

For one thing, there are some really creative holiday-themed races out there. Plus, people are nearly always in a great mood and eager to get extra silly (think costumes and such) at holiday events. A few races that showcase holiday humor and spirit with great success include:

These are just a few examples of races that have developed huge followings through their holiday connection. But you don’t need to stick with traditional holidays to create a clever themed event. Think outside the box! There are plenty of lesser-known holidays in existence that might make your race stand out even more. Keep tabs on all of the odd and unique holidays throughout the year here and find out what’s worth celebrating. You can easily create a race tied to nearly any theme you like, anytime of year.  A few fun ideas include:

  • Celebrate National Canine Fitness Month in April – with a Canine Challenge Cross-Country Run
  • May 3rd is National Two Different Colored Shoes Day – encourage your Athletes to be silly in a Two-Shoe 10k
  • Just Because Jog – to celebrate National Just Because Day in August 

holiday racesHoliday races are also a perfect time to bring family, friends, and neighbors together in a health and fitness activity. People who don’t typically participate will often run in holiday-themed races. The opportunity to join in the fun, burn some calories before the holiday feast—and earn an extra piece of pie—is too good to pass up! Offering family or friend groups the chance to register in team categories adds an extra level of incentive, and can increase participant numbers. Don’t let logistics scare you away from this valuable opportunity—Athlinks Services provides all the tools you need to easily manage team registrations. You’ll love how streamlined we make the process, plus the flexibility our platform allows you and your Athletes. Think flexible payment options, viewable team captains, as well as number of Athlete spots remaining.

Like team participation, fundraising is also ideally suited to holiday events. Athlinks Services can help, with clear and intuitive instructions for you and your Athletes. Participants can create individual or team fundraising pages through our partnership with CrowdRise. And as a Race Director you can offer incentives for different fundraising levels. You can also send dedicated messaging with charity racing tools and tips, fundraising ideas, sample emails or social media posts. Everyone’s in a giving mood around the holidays, so these races are perfect opportunities to focus on charitable causes.

Obviously, a holiday theme can help boost a race’s bottom line. But why do you need to think about next year starting now?

How to Score Holiday Race Success

The single most important thing you need to know about a successful holiday race is that the time to start planning is now. OK, we’ll let you slide until December 26th—but not a moment later. We’re not joking. The registration push to next year’s holiday race should start the day after this year’s event!

The reason is a combination of pricing strategy and human behavior. As we discuss in our free Race Director’s guide, How to Optimize the Registration Path. Creating multiple price breaks is an essential strategy for your event. And planning these out requires time. You might consider running a registration blitz the day after your event. Try opening registration for the next year’s race at a deep discount for a limited time or for a specific number of Athletes. Athletes who have just finished your race will be fired up for next year—and ready to recommit. When you reopen registration, offer a price break schedule determined either by date or by volume of participants. You can find details on both of these strategies in our free guide.

optimize registration

When it comes to when to open general registration, keep an open mind. In fact, toss out whatever idea you have about optimal timing, because you may be wrong! When it comes to holiday races, our access to rich data tells us what to expect. With SmartCorral we have access to data around Athletes behavior during registration. For example, we learned that Turkey Trot races that open registration 9–10 months in advance have the highest average number of participants per event. That seems counter-intuitive! Thanksgiving-themed races usually open registration a few weeks before the event. But the data doesn’t lie, so opening earlier is a ripe opportunity for any Race Directors willing to buck the norm. And it stands to reason that the same holds true for other holiday events—so get ready to open your next year’s registration soon!

Interested in more data to help determine the best registration and marketing strategies for your holiday-themed race? Our free guide dives even deeper into human behavior, analyzing reg patterns and pinpointing opportunities for growth. You’ll also learn much more about how to optimize the reg path. Including the ideal number of registration questions, which ones to ask and how to best integrate your partners. And don’t forget, the many ways that Athlinks Services can help. Consider this guide our holiday gift to you.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to working with you in the year ahead!