I have been running now for over 10 years and typically at some point in a person’s running career they look for new challenges, to try things that they haven’t yet achieved. For me that was to become a race director.
I have the privilege and honor of directing a race here in Columbus, Ohio called the Run Your Buns Off 5k to benefit the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue. This year was the Third Annual, something I was completely stoked about! I had no idea when this race was first held that we would even make it for a third running, but here we are.
Race directing is so much more difficult than being a participant. I can’t even fathom what it is like for folks that manage much larger races like half marathons or marathons. The logistics alone can be difficult to keep up with, but I think for me, the hardest part is the customer service part.
Customer service for a small 5k can be daunting. On the one hand, I get it, people are paying money to participate and they want to feel that their money is well spent. But the other half of me thinks, ‘Hey, we are truly blessed to have money to spend to run, the time to run, and aren’t some complaints just a #firstworldproblem?” Maybe. But it is an excellent skill to learn and each race that we have had I have learned something new, something that can be improved about the experience. Each year, I think the race is getting better. And I do take people’s thoughts and feedback seriously while trying to also be conscientious of the fact that we are trying to aid a non-profit.
This year we held the event at the Scioto Audubon Metropark, which is a pretty little place to have it at. The temperatures were a little warmer than is typical this time of year, but sunny with blue skies. Our turnout was excellent! We had a little over 100 people register for the event.
The burden of being a small race is that putting on a 5k can be expensive and we are trying to help raise money for a non-profit. So, we don’t want to break the bank, but we DO want to have an enjoyable experience for our participants. This year we went with cotton t-shirts rather than the tech fabric and we had volunteers create handmade medals to award to finishers. In the past we have done age group awards, but those can be expensive and time consuming so I haven’t decided whether or not to bring them back.
This year I got to participate in the race itself which was fun and exciting. I didn’t have the most splendid finish time because I have been doing so much distance running that I’ve lost speed. My time was 31:16 and 6th out of 22 in my age group, so not bad.
One piece of feedback that we got was to include a course map. This was fascinating to me, because this had never been requested in the past, so more people must be using them. I think this was a great suggestion and have added it to the list for next year.
Finisher awards or medals are always a big deal. I understand why. Larger events and 5k’s hand these out all the time now. The difficulty is when you are teeny tiny race like we are or what used to be called a ‘no frills’ event, it can be hard to keep up with the changes in expectations. This year we had handmade finisher awards which I think turned out quite nicely. I don’t know if this is a permanent solution or not, but what we did this year turned out nicely.
To be frank, I love directing this race. The few times DH and I have contemplated moving in the future, I get really sad about the prospect of not being involved in this race. It truly is something I am SO PROUD of. It also feels good to know that something I am passionate about can become a method for supporting a different passion (house rabbits).
All in all it was a magnificent day and I am already thinking about the Fourth Annual!