Race Directors Resources Page

Race Directing Ideas

by Michael Montagna

April 18, 2014

Directing a race can be a rewarding event. It is a great way to get runners or walkers together to do something they enjoy. Itís a great opportunity to raise money for your or a chosen charity or cause. Its also a great way to raise awareness for a cause.

Directing a race entails a lot of aspect and can be time consuming as much as rewarding.

I have received many questions on how to put races together, so I have decided to put together this hand book to help other prospectus race directors. I hope it covers all aspects and answers all your questions. I would appreciate any additions to help others organize their event.

This information is complied from attending many area event trough the years and feedback from others.

  • Consider Walkers
  • Other Participants/ Rules
  • Race Cause
  • Size of Turnout
  • Date
  • Race Time
  • Entry Fee
  • Entry Fee Options
  • Registration Forms
    Online Registartion
  • Sponsors
  • Picking the Right Cours
  • Measuring the Course
  • Marking the Course
  • Mile Markers
  • Water Stops
  • Finishing Line
  • Timing
  • Shirts
  • Awards
  • Post Race Festivites
  • Registration Area
  • Tags or Bibs
  • Insurance
  • Wavier of Liability
  • Parental Consent
  • Traffic Conrol & Permits
  • Starting Area & Race Start
  • Race in Progress
  • Medical Assistance
  • Toilets
  • What You Should Have

    If you are having an event or planning on having an event part of the Luzerne County Levee System please read this- PERMISSION/RULES. (7/21/2015)


    NEPARunner is primarily geared to runners, but we would like to think of walkers as fellow runners. Please consider walkers for your event. There are many area walkers who enjoy partaking in these events as much as runners do. Many walkers are very competitive, many walkers may just be starting out to be runners or just are unable to run, but want to take part in your event. Whatever their reason their participation should be considered. Including them also shows your sincerity in promoting fitness.

    Take in mind that there are several types of race walks.

    FITWALK, where there are no official judges, and the walkers are taken on their merit that they walked and did not run. You can also just call it a walk.

    RACEWALK, this should be judged. The judges should be familiar with race walking procedures and forms.

    In any case you can either have awards for walkers or include them as runners.


    Some races do not allow strollers or pets. Some do. If they are included please remind these people they should be considerate of others. Usually they are anyway.

    Most events do not allow wheel chair, skateboards, bikes or rollerblades, inline skates. Some races do make special provisions for wheel chair participants.

    Use of head set audio devices is prohibited in many event, because of insurance regulations/rules, many events do allow headset audio devices without incident. Whatever you decide, make sure to note it on your entry form.

    Here are what is pretty much involved in organizing an event that you may want to concentrate on.


    You may already have chosen your cause. Some events just might be a running club event. For those who do not have a cause, you really donít need a cause for a race just to have a race, but why not raise some money for an organization. If youíre looking for volunteers, sponsors and need traffic control, youíre best off to have a good cause. Several races do not have a cause and are just to have a race, with no or minimal fees to cover any cost incurred. If youíre running a free race chances are you do not need most of what is listed below, but still check into any local laws pertaining to permits, just to be safe.



    Try to contact an area racing club or area events calendar, such as here at to see what events may already be on the schedule. If you do not care for a large turnout or if you are only interested in a community only type event, this might not matter. Bear in mind that chances are runners will turn out for the more established, larger, more frills event. You can email me inquiring what events where scheduled last year in the time frame you are interested in and I will get back to you with this information.

    You should take into consideration the time of year. The fairer weather times will yield a larger turnout. Fair weathered runners and walkers will turn out usually from April to September. Other months tend to be fine for the more diehard and competitive runners and walkers.


    Many runners tend to favor the earlier race. Ten oíclock or earlier seemed to be more favorable. Some event later when tied to parades, festivals, carnivals, picnics do well when they coincide with the event. Many runners do not want to tie too much of their day up tied to a run, they may have other obligations scheduled. Early evening races are also quite popular events on weekdays. But do consider when itís going to get dark.


    Price of 5k's range from $15 to $25. (2014)


    Pre-registration usually run a couple of bucks cheaper than the day of race fee. Pre-registration can give you an idea of how your turnout is going to be, which can be used to order shirts, water, awards and goodies. This also allows you to get ready for the event by putting together goodie bags, tags for runners. It also keeps the congestion of the day of race congestion down. Itís a time saver. It also commits runners to show up. Another option is for a "No-shirt" option where the fee is substantially cheaper than with a shirt. Some runners may have too many shirts or just might not be able to afford the fee.


    Youíre going to want to print many of these out, several hundred if not a thousand or two. If you can its best to get them printed and distributed at least three months before an event. But there is nothing wrong even if itís only a month or so ahead. Itís a good idea to bring your race form to other events. This is great advertisement; runners usually look for upcoming events at other events. Race directors do not object and in most cases will set up a table especially for this purpose. You might even ask the race director if he/she would like to place one in their race packets.
    If youíre going to mass mail entry forms to perspective participants, you may want to inquire on a Bulk-mailing rate. You will receive a reduced rate based on the amount of parcels or you may want to look into 'Non Profit Organization" status. Non Profit Organization status could run you several hundred dollars.
    Your best bet is to post your registration form right here at NEPARunner.

    BULK RATE pdf

    To place your race information online at posting info at

    Your entry form can also be posted where visitors can print a copy out. You can scan your form, forward it to NEPARunner in .doc or .pdf formats or if you have it online, it will post the webaddress.

    You may want to also mail some forms out to runners who previously ran your race, to other known runners and to area running club. You might want to ask fitness center, stores, and churches to post them at their places. Of course you can always contact to post one on their website so visitors can print one out at home.

    If you need an idea of a form several different examples are included later here.

    Here are some important items that should be listed on your entry form- name of event, date, time, location and who the event is for. Listing of sponsors on the form is also great. Youíre going to want to mention the course, awards, cost, and person to contact, pre-registration deadline and who and the address to send the checks out to.

    You can also list your event at Runners World or Running Times, you might be able to sign up for free racing bibs and other goodies in exchange for a mailing list of your participants.

    Basic Form Guideline
    Sample Form
    Standard Waiver
    Post your form at


    Many events are now using online registration. Entrants pay a fee for registrating online or your organization can opt to absorb the fee.
    Here is a list of some services available.



    If you have a good cause, you might not have a problem getting sponsors. Money raised from sponsors should be ample enough to cover all cost of your event. A list of some of the cost is mentioned later here. Sponsors tied to the event should be someone, organizations or businesses tied to the community or event. Sponsors do not have to be just monitory, but can be in the form of raffle items, food for post-race awards, shirts, goody bag items. Sponsoring an event in some ways is great advertisement for the sponsor. Itís also a good reflection in being community minded and concern for your cause. You may want to send the sponsor a race shirt and thank you note.


    DISTANCE-The most popular event is the 5k race. Race range in other sizes, 1, 2, 3 mile, 5k, 4 miler, 6k, 5 miler, 10K, 10 miler, half marathon and marathon. (Iím not going to touch on the ultra here). Some races will have multi-distances. Becoming more popular is the multi-loop event. Where a runner can either one loop or two.

    TYPE OF COURSE-The most important detail will be the traffic of the course. Itís best to stay away from tying up traffic. Many events are run in parks or trails to avoid traffic congestion and traffic control. This also cuts down on the amount of volunteerís need to work the race.

    There are several course type classifications. You have an open road, flat, some hills, trails, cross country and extreme events. You best make sure you specify what kind of course you are running. Although many runners find hills challenging, try to stay away from monster hills. These hills will limit your turnout. So will too much of a challenging cross-country or trail run. Most runners will go for the paved level type of race, where their time will be fast. Runners like PRís (personal records). You are probably better off with an out an back course, that meaning where you start is where you finish. This is a less of an inconvenience to both the runners and the race workers and eliminates the expense of any shuttling of the runners and again volunteers.

    If youíre including walkers, some races may set shorter distances for walkers. The more competitive walk races will be the same distance. Remember that the same distance will extend the overall time of your event, which can prolong the start of the award ceremony.

    All in all the more competitive walker also favors the 5k distance.


    You should accurately measure the distance of the course. You should wheel measure the course and if possible GPS it too (find a runner with a GPS, they will be glad to run it for you). Runners do get upset, if you advertise a 5k and its something other than a 5k. You can have it USTAF distance certified, but if youíre accurate, you can go by without it.


    You should also make sure the course is well marked with cones, arrows are yellow tape. There is only one thing more upsetting than a runner finding out he went the wrong way, and that is a race director finding out some one went the wrong way or the distance was wrong.

    You should also mark any post holes or other uneven area with paint of placing a cone on the defect, it alert runners of a hazard.

    You can tape off any areas, such as areas that are not turns that runners are not to run. You can also use a horse or cone instead.
    Make sure you contact any official of the area the course and ask if marking is permitted and what types of markings are allowed.


    The course should have mile makers. The best markers are wooden signs on the road. Many runners may not see a number on the pavement or on a telephone pole. Even better is to have someone at the mile marker yelling out the time elapsed since the start of the race. This is called a mile split.

    If you do use a sign you can put a sponsorís name above the distance.


    Depending on the distance of the race and the weather conditions pretty much determines if water stops are needed. In a 5k it is recommended and appreciated to had at least have a water table in the middle of the event. Two is even better.

    In longer races you should set up stops appropriately.

    Some races cup out a sports drink. If youíre going have a sports drink you have a sign saying whether its water or sports drink. Some sports drinks may affect runners. It is quite shocking to take a drink and finding out its not water when thatís what you were expecting.

    Your longer races such as marathons will also have powerbars, sports gels or fruit available. All these little things make the race more inviting and memorable. Remember you might not get the fastest runner to stop for a drink and not all runners will take a drink.

    Youíre going to need some volunteers handing out water. Kids love this job. You should use 2 or 3 oz. paper or dixie cups and not plastic jugs when handing them out. Two or three ounces are all thatís need.

    Volunteers should also be asked to pick up the cups of the ground after the last runner passes by.


    Your finishing line should be at least 100 feet from any turn. Five hundred feet or more would be even better. This gives the finishing line workers and timers time to see who is approaching. It also gives the runner a full view of the area and a safe finishing area, which eliminates any accidents or falls. Donít forget this might be the area of the race where your runner is running his fastest. The area should also be unobstructed.

    You may want to stretch a tape loosely across the finishing line for the first finisher to break.

    In the finishing line area you must set up a shoot area, where the runners will be cattled through. You should have a volunteer working here to maintain order of finish and remind finishers to keep moving. If someone gets sick, a volunteer should alert someone, move them to the side and take their tag and hand it to some one to record their place of finish.

    Its not uncommon for a participant to throw up after a race. They should be alright after a few minutes, but should be watched.

    The finishing line area is where the timers and scorers will be working too. You should set up polls and tapes making a lane about five or six feet wide. If youíre using Insta-results, this is right where they will be setting up their van to score the finishers as they cross the finishing line.


    This is a very important part of the race. Most runners want to know their time and their finishing place. You can either hire someone to do this or you can do it yourself. If you're going to do it yourself, its not too difficult, but you should be familiar with the procedure and you should have several volunteers to help you. First you will need someone with a timing device. A standard chronograph watch will work, but youíre better off with a hand held recording timing device. If you hire someone, they will have such a device and when the runner finishes the race they (the timer) will click the button on this device. The device records each time and prints it out on a cash register type sheet of paper. The timer can record several hundred runners. You may want to have a back up timer or someone recording bib numbers unless you are using the Insta-results type of scoring. In the Insta- results type of scoring each runner has a tag on them. When they cross the finishing line a worker will peel there name off their tag and place it on a board next to their place of finish. These broads are usually pre numbered and placed on the van. The runners then will continue through the shoot, usually someone will be handing out water to them.

    As the race progresses, someone will bring over some of the times from the timer and someone will write the correlating time next to the runners name. In turn after so many times are marked someone will calculate the age group finishing standings, which is used for awards.

    There are several other ways of timing too. Some races do not use the peel off tags, but use bib numbers. But usually someone will record the bib number and make some peel off tags. Your probably better off with a Insta-results type of timing, it really is the quickest unless you use a computer system. You can also hire computer system scorers who use chip timers, but this will be an added expense, itís not cheap.

    You can use a computer system yourself. This system would probably be best off to a advanced race director.

    For area Race service providers please check-AREA RACE SERVICES.


    Runners like their race shirts. Most shirts are your basic white T-shirt with a race logo on the front and a list of sponsors on the back. Like my one friend said their billboards for your body. This is a great way to give the sponsors the recognition for contributing this event. Some shirts are really colorful works of art.

    There is several styles of shirts normally given out at out at races, long sleeve, tank top type or no sleeve. Some races may offer a Cool max shirt, a sweatshirt. Some races do not give shirts but may give, bags, hats, knit hats, gloves, blankets, mugs. The sky is the limit. But donít forget this expense. You should also award your volunteers or workers who work the event a shirt.

    If you choose giving a shirt, youíre going to want to go enlist a shirt printer or embroider. You can find a list of area printers in the "Yellow Pages" under " Screen Printing".

    You can come up with your own logo or you can ask someone there to come up with one, for you sometimes at an added cost.



    Usually, of course depending on the participants, awards, (trophies, medals, plaques, cookies, or even stuffed bears) are awarded to the top 3 overall male and female finishers in both the run and walk. Some races also give awards to masters, (top finisher, 40 years and over, male/female)

    Awards are also given to the top three-male/female finisher in age groups. Age groups are used because as you know the older you get the slower you get, so having a 50 year-old running against a 22 year-old, just not fair competition.

    Age group brackets are usually 5-year tiers. 14 & under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29 etc.etcÖ

    Some races may use 10-year tiers and some may give only one or two awards to each age group. Of course this again depends on your budget. More awards given usually will award you with more return participants next year.

    You may also give one age group more awards than another based on the field of particpants.

    Some races also give a special award to Clydesdale division. That is where runners are over 200 lbs. Usually you ask particpants to note this on their entry form. It would be wise to again ask all runners at the starting line if they have signed up fr this division. Some might be unaware of the Clydesdale award until after the race is over when the award is being handed out.

    Some races instead of giving out awards may hand out certificates.

    Some walk races hand out normal awards in separate classification then runners, some races only award awards to the overall winners or the top several. Some races will treat walkers as though they were runners with no different awards.

    If you do plan on include walkers, make sure you set the rules up-front on what kind of walk your having and how the awards are run. Itís best to be descriptive on your entry form.

    In all cases itís a established rule that there be no duplications of awards. For example the overall winner receives a trophy for overall winner but would not receive one for winning his age group. Such applies to any Mastersí awards or second or third overall finisher.

    You can find places where you can get awards again in the "Yellow Pages" under "Trophies & Awards" or on the Internet.

    You can have the awards engraved or you can do it yourself. Some race directors print stickers on their printers and place them on the award. Nice touch.

    It would be a good idea to speak to other race directors on where they get their shirts or awards. There past experiences an be a valuable asset.


    This brings um back. Runners love the atmosphere to mingle with other runners after a fine race. Usually after the race, some runners may go for a cool down run; others may just stick around waiting to see their time and place and for the awards ceremony. The time after the first runner finishes the race to the last runner can be awhile. Some race directors can tabulate the awards as the runners are finishing the race. But you should not present any awards until the results are finished and the last runner has crossed the finishing line. Sometimes a runner may request their trophy because they must leave. Itís okay obliging their request.

    Again at the finish line, many races will hand out water, and fruit. Some will have bagels, and other goodies like pizza, hoagies, pastries, and soda. (even beer).

    Itís a good idea to announce the time of the awards presentation before the race so that those who maybe on the cool down run will be back in time.

    You may want some volunteer working at the awards. Someone to give the award and someone to hand award to the presenter. This usually keeps things flowing smoothly. Youíre going to want to use some type of speaker system or megaphone, unless you are really loud to announce the winners. Whoever is announcing the winners should be pretty familiar with the pronunciation of the names. Race director usually handles this chore. You can choose someone who is tied to the charity or cause to do the presentation if you would like. Some names are pretty tricky.


    Youíre going to want to probably set up your registration area up about two hours before the race. Youíre going to need tables. One table or more should be set up for those who reregistered. Several days before the race, some volunteers (or you) should be assembling the race packets. In the packets youíre going to want to place whatever goodie you are giving away, any race forms or literature you decided to add, and the shirt or other give away. On the outside of the packet youíre going to want to place the runners name. Make sure that you place the runners bib number of tag inside the packet with several safety pins.

    Place the packets in alphabetical order so your volunteer will have no problem locating the runnerís packet.

    You should place signs so pre-registration runners know where to go for their packet. Do not place the sign to low, because these signs might be blocked when it gets busy. You probably are going to want to the sign about 7feet or so high.

    Another table you must set up is your registration table. You might want to have several tables, depending on who many volunteers you have. You can use one, but as race time approaches it gets busier and the line could get longer. Many runners show up right around a half-hour before the race.

    At these tables you will need a cash box. Have lots of one-dollar bills. Many runners may be using twenties. You may want one person to accept the money another to accept the registration form and fill out the tag or bib and another to give race packet or shirt.

    If you have several volunteers its best to have one handle male and another women or maybe by age group. It makes it less confusing to the volunteer how to fill out the tag.

    You also may want to place signs pointing all those who want to register to the table.

    You will also need a table, with pens or pencils and a stack of entry forms for participants to fill out before they make their way to the registration table. Also place a sign in this area.


    There are several types of bibs. One will have just a number and other might have a perforated area, where you add their name, sex, age and town. It is perforated so it can be removed at the finish line.

    If youíre using a regular bib, on a separate sheet of paper or on the entry form record the number. If youíre using a separate sheet of paper of a sticker system your going to want to write the number, name, sex age and town.

    If youíre using the tag system youíre going to want to do the same. Remember that they should be filled out neatly, so that they could be read and should be written in waterproof ink a thin point sharpie will do. It might rain or the runners sweat might make render unreadable. Some races will use a computer to print this info on the tag.

    The age is required to tabulate the awards; you need to specify the sex, again for awards. Female tags usually will have a thick black line down the side for easy identification. You should also write the town where they live too. If youíre the local newspaper is covering the event they like listing the town. It usually gives other runners an idea that the person is from. Sounds great at awards ceremony

    If youíre using Insta-Results, they will instruct you exactly how to set the tag system up. They use a color-coded tag system. Some of the colors might be confusing, but usually work out pretty good. Another system that could be used is placing a large letter or number on the right or left side of the tag. The number would relate to the age group. Example 1 or A would be men 14 and other, 2 or B would be 15- to 19, 3 or C would be 20-24 and so on and so on. This relates better then colors because the mind processes order in numbers or letters.

    Many events are now using chip timing. The server provides bibs it a foil band on the back, which is the transmitting chip. If you are using these make sure the participants know to use them and find the, especially if they are in the registration packet.


    It is recommended that you have your race insured. Foot-race insurance is relatively cheap. Most races go without an incident, but you should protect yourself from any liability. Your waiver pretty much protects you from being sued, insurance would be added protection "just in case" and also should something happen, it will be able to help whoever is affected. If your race is being sponsored by some companies, their insurance may cover it. You may be able to secure insurance from your local Insurance agent.


    On all race forms you must have each runner sign a waiver of liability. This makes runner sign saying that they know that the race can be physical exerting, that they are in shape and trained for such event, that they also acknowledge that they waive their right to sue you, your sponsors, volunteers, owner of property or municipalities in the case of injury. Some waivers also acknowledge the rights to film the runners and use the film anyway they want. There is a standard waiver or you can tailor one to your needs.


    Also on the form if any participant is a minor (under 18 years of age) that their parent is required to sign the form giving the minor permission to take part in the event and also acknowledges the same as the waiver of liability.


    If your running a race in a town or area where it is been run before you should talk to a another race director to find out the procedure. In mostly all municipalities where the race enters the roadway, you are required to secure a permit. There is probably a fee for the permit. You should also contact the local police department to notify them that you intend on having a race and that you are getting or you have a permit and ask them what else is required. You any have to enlist any traffic control and you may have to pay the police department a fee.

    If you're running the race in a community where the roads maybe blocked or shared with runners, you may want to either post it in the newspaper when the delay is expected or place sign on local telephone poles several days in advance. Donít forget to remove the signs after the event.


    You should start you race promptly at the advertised start of the race. If you say start at 10, start no later than 2 after 10, of course make sure your watch is not five minutes fast. If you need to extend the race start announce that you are doing so and specify why and how long. Five minutes is understandable. Remember that many runners warm up before the race and have it calculated when there body is peak for starting. Delaying that can cause them to cool down and quite frankly upset them.

    You should announce at ten minutes before post time and again five minutes before post time the start of the race. Usually using a meg-a-phone.

    If youíre giving a presentation before his or her race, you might want everyone to line up five minutes before the race. Remind runners that the faster runners should line up in the front. Try to have the starting line as wide as you can with a white line placed on the starting area. At the starting presentation you may want to warn all participants of any dangers on the course, such a pot holes, limbs, curbs, ruts, etc. You may also want to describe the route, where the turns are which streets, where the turnaround is, and if theyíre to follow a pace car or lead bike. You may also want to tell them what to look for if the course is marked. Remind them about mile markers and water stops. You also remind them of the finishing line procedure. Insist that if there are any runners who are running the race and are not registered that they must not cross the finish line. Remind all participants that them must make sure that they have their tag placed on the board when they cross the finish line.

    If you're running a trail run also insist that should anyone drop out of the race that they notify someone so you know they are not lost or injured.

    If the weather is hot, you may want to advise the runners that there is a risk of heat-related injury and advice them that they should use the water stops.

    If youíre including a walk, you should remind the walkers to line up behind the runners unless they can keep the pace. (Some can). Also if your walk distance or course is different, you should again remind the walkers of their course.

    If the course is different than last year you should also bring that to their attention.

    You may want either the race director to start the race or to hand over the start to an honorary starter, who will either use a gun or air horn to start the race. The starter should give a start command, usually it will go on your mark, set go, (start)

    At this point the timer should start the timing clock.


    Some races will use a pace car of lead bike to lead the pack. The leader should be aware of the course and any changes. Itís a good idea to also know who the last participant is. Several races enlist bicyclist to patrol the course for any problems; they also can let you know when the last runner is approaching.


    It would probably we wise to contact an area medical team to have a vehicle with paramedics on the scene on standby. Iím not sure if there is a fee, if there is not a fee you should give them a donation. The emergency vehicle may follow the last runner or stay by the finishing area.

    If you're not planning on using a standby medical assistance, you should at least have a cell phone in case of an emergency, with numbers whom to contact available or of course 911.


    If youíre in a park or a public area, there might be facilities available for participants to use before the race. If there are no facilities you should contact a company and schedule to rent some for your event.

    You should have at least two, one for women and another for men. If possible you should have more, depending again on your expected turnout.

    You can find an area listing of Portable Toilets in the "Yellow Pages" under "TOILETS-PORTABLE"


    • Traffic cones.
    • Digital clock display and or timing devices.
    • Walkie-talkies/ cellphones.
    • Caution tape.
    • Safety pins.
    • Pens, markers, clipboards.
    • Tape.
    • Meg-a-phone
    • Starters pistol or air horn.

    This about covers it. If you're planning on directing races, try to attend several other races to see exactly what goes on if your not familiar with it or if you never really paid attention. And on the day of the race you might want to check all areas and your volunteers for any last minute question. Good luck with you're event!