Forgive us for a moment while we nag — but did you remember to say thank you?

As a Race Director, it’s important to show your appreciation to your Athletes. After all, they are the element that will make or break your event’s success. Acknowledge that they chose your race over others. All their training — plus their entry fee — went toward getting to your start line, so be sure to say thanks.

What’s the best way to show your Athletes some love? We have plenty of ideas to share.

Say “Thank you.”

It’s easy. Walk around the expo, the start line, and the finish area of your race to connect with your participants. Free up time especially for this. Thank them for coming, answer their last-minute questions, and congratulate them on finishing. Make personal connections with as many Athletes as possible. It’s simple, yet oh-so-important, to express your sincere thanks.

Applaud the first-timers.

Imagine if, as a rookie Athlete, you received special acknowledgement. Find a special way to honor newbies to your sport. First, be sure to collect this data during registration. Then, give each rookie a shout out by name at the start line. Or, send post-race emails to every newbie, congratulating them on their accomplishment. Rest assured, these Athletes will return to your race!

Put people in the limelight.athlete stories

Likewise, find personal interest and inspirational stories within your participant group. Include a question in your event registration, asking for their “why.” Or, have your staff, interns, and volunteers gather any interesting stories they hear. Share these stories at the start line, throughout race day, and when the Athlete finishes.

Stay stoked.

Keep the energy high all along your course with dedicated spectator cheering groups. Assign cheer teams to the toughest spots on the course, like the top of a climb. School sports teams and cheerleading squads bring tons of youthful energy. Military groups add motivating tough love. Seniors from a retirement community provide much-needed affection. These unique groups of spectators each show encouragement in their own way. And in turn, that translates to appreciation for your Athletes. Do your best to recruit as many fans, and as much variety among them, as possible.

Rally around the final finishers.

Make the final finishers feel extra special by acknowledging and encouraging them. Send a group of staff to run alongside them as a personal cheer section for the final mile. Make a human bridge to welcome them to the finish. Give them special awards. Show that their accomplishments are as important as the winning finish times. There’s no better way to make them feel welcome, and to ensure they’ll be back the next year.

Award finisher medals in person.finisher medal

A great way to connect with Athletes is to spend time in the finish chute awarding finisher medals. These are quick, but important connections. Every Athlete will love receiving their medal from the head honcho at the race! Along with a medal, give each Athlete a heartfelt thanks and congrats.

Food is love.

You know the saying, “There’s no faster way to a person’s heart than through their stomach”? This is especially true of athletes! Your participants will be hungry and thirsty after the race, so give them the best spread you can provide. A memorable post-race meal is an important and edible thank you. (It also often shows up in social media posts praising the event.) A beer garden is another way to make sure everyone feels the love at a finish line festival.

Amp up your awards.

Don’t limit your awards to the top performers in each category. Add unique awards, also. Honor the youngest and oldest participants. Give a shout out—and even a free hotel night— to the participant who travels the furthest to race. Applaud any participants who have raced with you many times. These Athletes may not be the fittest or fastest, but they’re critical to your event. Be sure you let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Reach out post-race.

Pick participants at random and send them personalized post-race emails. You’ll want to send a general thank you to every Athlete after the race, but also send some personalized notes. Send as many as you and your staff can make time to write. In each one, express your appreciation for their participation. Then add a personal touch, such as praising their impressive pace.

As you can see, there are endless ways to show your participants your appreciation. And while you may feel strapped for time and wonder whether it’s worth it, saying thanks can pay off in more ways than one. Make some extra effort and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits, including:

  • Positive word-of-mouth marketing
  • Positive social posts, likes, shares, and comments
  • Loyal participants who return year after year—and who often bring family and friends

Whatever way you choose to say thank you, be sure to do it, and do it often. You’ll enjoy connecting with your Athletes, and they’ll show their loyalty in return.

Want more advice on how to make your event a standout success?

Give us a ring at 855-709-4555.