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What is important in terms of what a race provides?


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Fellow Tranny’s,

I know this may have been done before, but a lot has changed in last 2 years. What would you consider to be the top 3 most important things a race should provide to make it a great experience? I ask in terms of tangibles (medals, shirts, towels, port-a-loos, correct distances etc) not things outside a RD’s control (drafting from a TO interpretation etc). 
 

When responding keep in mind that almost all things have associated costs that may impact entry fees. Basically if you would not be prepared to pay more (in the event your suggestion costs more) don’t mention it 🤔. Having said this costs maybe offset by dropping things that may not be needed. 
 

As a RD of some major local events I am looking to improve the overall experience for all competitors both new and experienced. 
 

Let it rip 🤣

Cheers

NSF

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Good question NSF,

I am coming at you from a fellow RD perspective as I am now happily retired!  I ran a few different events, but most recently ran a local fun run on the long weekend in March. We were capped at 500 due to COVID restrictions but didn't hit that number anyway.

From our point of view, there were a couple of things we didn't want to compromise on (in no particular order):

- Finish medals.  Feedback from athletes from previous events is that you don't want to scrimp on these

- Athlete safety - particularly relevant in a COVID environment. Made sure we had plenty of sanitiser, anti-bacterial spray, signage etc, but also had medical on site. I get your point above about extra costs etc, but unfortunately this is now a cost of running events, although we did have good support from Council and Athletics Victoria who supplied some signage and various assets (hand sanitiser stations etc). Our out of pocket was surprisingly low in my view - 2/3 hundred dollars at most I reckon.

- Course accuracy - when athletes are chasing a PB they don't want to be gipped by a course that might be a couple of hundred meters short or whatever.

- to the point above, quality timing. Someone who is experienced, doesn't make mistakes (or if there is can be rectified quickly) and timely publication of official results (ie within hours)

Not sure if that is of any help or not, but that is certainly the feedback, both direct and anecdotal, from our most recent event.

Cheers

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As an athlete (I am also an RD).

Medals - For longer stuff like 10k fun runs and longer I love the idea of a finisher medal. 10k for most people is no mean feat. Possibly Olympic distance tris and above as well, as they are an event that the masses have to train for. Especially the first timers. I think first timer blokes are missing out, as a lot of the first timer events in tri are geared to females, and they get a medal, but a man cannot do those, so does an enticer elsewhere and gets nothing to show for it. Its kind of a shame really.

Course safety - nothing worse than trying to smash out a PB on a run and then you are suddenly ass over tit into a hole! Or when you are on the bike and someone comes onto the course. Swim wise I am a fan of having proper lifeguards, yes they cost, but when you want to make sure everyone gets out ok, its paramount.  If there are jelly fish in the water (even blubbers), call for the use of wetsuits. A number of my mates spent the bike and run scratching madly at Nowra 3 years back. I was lucky as I tried to not stroke as deep. If there are bluebottles, perhaps consider adjusting the course from where they are congregating. I swam at the Malabar Magic, and a number of people copped BB stings on the 2.5k and 5k as they were all in the one spot on the course.

Course accuracy - especially in the swim! I've seen swims too long, too short, too dangerous and everything in between.

Timing - if you can move the swim exit mat to right near the swim exit - do it! Although most of us just take the garmin time these days, and hit the lap button as soon as we stand up. 

 Event Swag - I'm not all that fussed on plain material t-shirts. Mostly as I never wear them again. (although I am wearing my 70.3 finisher hoodie and 70.3 tshirt with the names on it - both purchased) The tech ones however get regular use at the gym or out on a run. Towels, I have mountains of towels, my +1 hates that I use them in the bathroom, a towels a towel. 🤣 

Edited by MissJess
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I think that people want different things at different stages of their tri life. When I started I wanted the medal, the towel, the Tshirt. Now I want a nice area where I can grab a coffee and catch up with mates after the race. 

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As a long term endurance participant

if doing a medal make it unique not something Mr T would wear on A team. I have a box of them, could only describe 2 or 3 of them.

The finisher medal/memorabilia I  use / remember from races are the 2 coffee cups (Nepean, Run Larapina), these i use regularly.

Good quality drink bottles are a great swag item and about only thing from a swag bag that is lasting, unless sponsors product like chain lube, sun block, sports/inedible bar. Good drink bottles are also a great reminder of the event, crappy ones are a event turn-off, from doing again.

Either make the event lower cost and offer nothing other than sponsor product or more expensive and and nice stuff. Don’t do expensive and have crap.

If event is significant eg IM, endurance (above 7hr) eg MTB marathon or multi day eg Run Larapina, Snowy Mtn MTB festival. I might by a race shirt but these are expensive races and highlight race of year. not a 10km road run.

For the actual race, location is very important, either has to be local which means supporting local series, or a course that is interesting, or a family location.

key things like portaloo’s and organised registration make easy to set good first / lasting impressions. Starting on time helps.

Afterwards things like access to good coffee. one race series i do in Auckland you get a hot chips voucher as you cross the finish line. This is great reward, as not everyone wants a beer!. Shade/weather protection will help people stay around and interact.

Enviromental impact, things like no plastic bags, bring your own cup. Gives that feel good feeling.

Rubbish bin’s are helpful.

As someone who raced through the 90’s I am less worried about safety or accuracy unless it is a specified distance eg IM, 10km, but a off-road race distance is less important. Safety I take ownership of making decisions. (I ride my road bike on the road, and MTB so used to risk assessment)

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  • Safe ("technical" is media speak for dangerous)
  • Fair ( don't have 5 min gaps between waves then a 15 min gap in the middle of a split wave in order to reduce the number of people on a course, also no more than 3 laps of anything) this includes accuracy,  tell it like it is, if your course is safer with a 39 k bike do it just put it on the entry from.
  • Fun ( unless it's the Olympics sport should be fun - you should see what handing out chocolate frogs at the finish line does for people's smiles :) )

and if you can manage it "value" then folks will love you, by all means donate any profit to a charity but if I want to be a philantrapist I will make a donation (at least then I get a tax deduction) - these can be made an entry option on most payment gateways

Edited by trifun
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Getting back into things as I've only raced twice this millennium.

NO MEDALS - not unless you've won or placed in the top 3 of your category. T-shirts? Meh, I've got enough t-shirts anyway. Towels? I'm married and live in a house which seems to have a room full of towels. 

For me:

  • good safety cover. You can't put it on Instagram if you're dead
  • well resourced marshals - much as I'd love everything to be closed roads, it's not always realistic. Help the marshals know what they need to, and can, do. 
  • accurate course distances
  • comprehensive briefings (OK, this is COVID so a good video is enough) and clarity on where the course goes (London Triathlon, which was my return takes you through bloody buildings and isn't well explained)
  • check in options (online or on the day)
  • provision of electrolytes or energy drinks (and let us know beforehand what they are)
  • AG calf markings. When some skinny little bugger goes past as I'm pretty much on my limit on the run I want to know if I need to go faster to try and keep a place. 
  • more portaloos than you think you need. And FAR more dunny paper than you think. I (almost) always bring my own, but there's always that time. 
  • Good coffee.
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Speaking as a long time long course guy and former senior TO...

1. Safe bike course on roads that are either lightly travelled or have generous bike lanes. Ideally, both. Closed roads are even better (more common in Australia in my experience than NZ or, by a long shot, the US). But a well designed and marked course on open roads is nearly as good. Don't assume drivers will pay attention to marshals, let alone traffic cones. Many – most – do, but it seems fewer every day. Standard distances are much less important, so long as the distance is accurately measured (easy these days) and publicised in advance. A safe course lets everyone go fast, not just the dimwits.

2. Same considerations for the run course, although it's usually easier to do. Keep it off road if possible. If not, avoid street crossings to the greatest extent possible. Safety = speed.

3. Well marked swim course, with buoys that are well anchored and large enough to see from a distance (and from the trough of a swell). And aren't the same color as the swim caps.

4. Aid station consistency. Having many aid stations is nice, but what's much more important is that the aid stations are reliably stocked and located as advertised. Consistency and reliability are more important than quantity, or even quality.

Otherwise, favor quality over quantity. T-shirts, towels, water bottles, medals are fine things, but one quality item beats any quantity of crap. The only race schwag in my office is a nice ceramic coaster they gave out at a 50K instead of medals. A couple of experienced lifeguards are safer and more effective than a fleet of kids on surfboards (or worse, senior citizens in kayaks). Crowded bike racks that stay up are better than roomy T/As with collapsing racks.

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Course safety and accurate course shouldn’t even need to be mentioned but does. 

Interesting course could be good and entertainment in the hard bits. Mfd at port gets some tri club support there, but imagine if there was a commentator set up and someone playing music. Similar to the red bull aid stations but without the aid. 

Covid at the moment has screwed up the finishing experience. Atm it’s grab a piece of banana and continue on your way. 

Having a compare at the start finish line is great and something the ironman events do pretty well. 

Swag is hit and miss and after a while there’s only so much you need. But it looks cheap if you don’t get anything. The importance placed on this prob comes down to how many you’ve done.

The atmosphere, finishing experience and post race facilities (easy good coffee and food, entertainment of some kind) is what I remember most about races. It’s all swim bike run otherwise

 

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I think it just depends on the race and entry cost. I think the more an entrant pays, the more they should see what they've bought. The event is one thing, but merch is another.

Of course safety first, clear directions, water on course, loos at the start + course appropriate, and a good day out is a given for any event.

Club organised racing: Just a timed event

$60 Commercial events: as above+ chute, distance accurate for 10km+ as they can be used as qualifiers, finisher medals - these are your grass roots participants that will have a memory and something to be proud of.

$100+ Commercial events: as above+ T-shirt, electrolytes

Big $ events eg IM,Challenge etc: As above + everything else, towel, high level aid stations on course, Draft busters, on course support etc etc. First class event entry fees need to be first class events for the entrants.

 

I think it is important to show athletes, customers, they're getting value for money. A $5 medal is motivation, a reminder, a memory & something to be proud of for most - I get that some who have done millions of events don't care anymore, but you just need to see how many people walk around after an event (particularly mass events) wearing their medals to see how important they are to so many people and how proud they are. T-shirts are also great advertising also and a wearable medal. I do however think that it is hard to come back from what has been - I look at IMAus and over the years have watched it get cheaper and cheaper. I was blown away when I first participated and then the Big Top tent functions went, do we even still get the meal vouchers anymore, the T1 & T2 bags went from awesome reusable mesh bags to plastic bags, the Special Needs bags then (to save plastic apparently) we had to buy and in the process used 100x the amount of plastic of the old bags, then the SN bags doubled in price, now the medals and finishers merch is last years, but theevent  prices still keep going up and the event particlarly without the BigTop tent isn't the mind blowing event that it once was. 70.3 towels all being the same - everybody I know thinks the common event towels now are so meh, they're not a special reminder anymore. Event/Year specific towels on the other hand are fantastic even if they don't get used, I love the full IM towels and was so happy and impressed that even at this years Cole Classic we got a cool towel, that's good value, and even if the event price changed from $45 to $60, you remember good merch (and bad mech I suppose "Anthing is Possible".)

 

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I like what you get from the Challenge races-a singlet and a Stein. The singlets are great for training and the steins are also handy, especially for the kids as they are plastic.

IM branded T shirts...I never wear them casually as I feel like a tosser, and don't like training in t shirts so they just sit in the cupboard. Maybe if there was an option to spend like another $10-20 to get a hoody or hat instead that would be better IMHO. Towels for me..mehh....

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50 minutes ago, more said:

I like what you get from the Challenge races-a singlet and a Stein. The singlets are great for training and the steins are also handy, especially for the kids as they are plastic.

IM branded T shirts...I never wear them casually as I feel like a tosser, and don't like training in t shirts so they just sit in the cupboard. Maybe if there was an option to spend like another $10-20 to get a hoody or hat instead that would be better IMHO. Towels for me..mehh....

I’ve read that last part as not wanting to look like a tosser in IM kit yet trains shirtless 😂

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1 minute ago, Kenneth said:

I’ve read that last part as not wanting to look like a tosser in IM kit yet trains shirtless 😂

Hey if its good enough for Lionel...

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For Ironman races. 

- Rolling hills & a couple of climbs on the bike. 

- great family vacation spot with plenty of non Tri related things to do 

- good coffee & bakery options 

- community support 

- I want every race to offer something different. If I was to do another IM it would be IM Wisconsin so I could run through the Football stadium on the marathon. I want to experience new locations, meet new people, eat different foods etc. 

I also want safety on the course (closed roads etc) 

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I prefer to be able to register and rack the bike on the morning of the race.  You can still do that in some races.  If you have to rack the day before then I would prefer to be able to set up everything in transition at that time rather than on race morning.  That would mean helmet check, drink bottles and running gear in place the day before.  Then you would not have to worry about the time transition closes prior to the start of a race.  If you don't have confidence that your tyres will be the right pressure by the next morning then you need to sort yourself out.

T1 and T2 should definitely be in the same location and preferably close to the water exit and finish line.

I love cotton shirts because I live in a hot and humid summer climate.  If a race shirt in the goody bag is not cotton based then it goes straight into the bin.  If there is a towel in the goody bag it needs to be good quality.  I would happily pay a bit extra entry fee to get a decent towel.  Everyone needs towels.

Of the three disciplines the cycle course is the most important.  It needs to be safe and relatively smooth.  Leave technical bike courses for the road cyclists who love them.  Triathletes are usually not good at the technical bits and this impinges on everyone's safety.

I think finisher medals are a waste of money.  They will rarely see the light of day afterwards.  Just give everyone a race cap with 'Finisher' on it as they cross the line so they can wear it for years.

If you are a RD in QLD then put your event on in the cooler months - the climate is perfect for it and there will be no timing conflict with events in southern states.

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Thanks all for your comments. Lots of great stuff in here. 
 

I would love to also hear from those on here that are newer to the sport if they would like to share. 
 

Cheers

NSF

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24 minutes ago, Notsofast said:

I would love to also hear from those on here that are newer to the sport if they would like to share. 

I'll ask the +1

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I always like a good shirt and/or towel.

I'd love a good running cap (some events have them, but they're not always a good fit/style, etc). I hate the visors provided at Mooloolaba/Noosa etc. Being follicly 'minimised'... I have no use for them. 👴

Of course... a safe, unimpeded course and transition is essential.

Plenty of port-a-loos and dunny paper is always of use, but obviously these come at a cost.

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I love Ironman events. The buzz, in general the professional event management and  that feeling that the event you are part of is bigger than it really is.

What would be a must have- timing splits, closed roads, aid stations. 

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3 hours ago, Notsofast said:

I would love to also hear from those on here that are newer to the sport if they would like to share. 

I've only been doing triathlon for about 4 years now, so I guess I qualify as newer to the sport.

Things that I go looking for in a race in no particular order:

• accurate course distances - swim I understand can be difficult to accurately measure, but the bike and run should be bang on
• an easy location - T1 and T2 in the same spot, plenty of parking in and around the venue, easy to get around for spectators
• swag bag that's actually useful - water bottles, hats, towels all good; cans of energy drink, endless brochures, cheap crap not good
• intelligent race start time - I don't really feel like sitting around for 3 hours waiting to start, nor do I feel like having to bust out 5min kms to get to the start on time after transition opens
• medal - I don't really care what it looks like, I want a momento for having finished and ticked off the achievement and it goes on the wall. The twins play with them and wear them on their necks and it's a symbol of the completion of the training process for that particular goal.
• a good race briefing document or web page - I love reading over all of nuances of the course and the race itself and being completely prepared. Accurate street maps of any bends and twists and where the turnaround points are really help. For the Sunshine Coast last year, there were people even on race day not sure where they were supposed to be going
• some sort of live timing or tracker - I don't really mind about this one, but my friends and family really appreciate knowing where I am, how I'm going and when I'm finished
• a safe course - making sure that the roads and footpaths are in good condition and I'm not going to eat shit in a pothole or trip over a tree root, or suffer race-ending punctures from debris on the road
• value for money - race fees don't bother me, but I just want to make sure that I get my money's worth. If it's a $50 race fee, I don't mind if it's bare bones, but if I'm paying $500 for a race, I expect more of the things above

That's all that I can think of off the top of my head. If I think of any more, I'll post again.
 

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11 hours ago, Bored@work said:

live tracking that work in real time

+1 

this isn't a requirement for any race, but, 

On 13/04/2021 at 3:50 PM, Notsofast said:

Basically if you would not be prepared to pay more (in the event your suggestion costs more) don’t mention it

I appreciate any spectators I bring along having a good experience and am happy to pay for it. 

I dunno if this is just me, I'd much prefer to have a well designed shirt/hat/towel than something that has 'Finisher' splashed across it. 

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From the point of view of someone with a little bit of experience.

Live splits is good, half working timing not so much. For someone who gets followed remotely (My parents like to watch the trackers) they get a little concerned if I get an exit time from T1, and then nothing for 3 hours, even though there might be a timing mat every 10-20km.

Personally, something I want to see more of comes in the pre-pre-race sphere.
Specifically - Your race has a website, please use it, keep us updated. Facebook is... not something that everyone has/uses, and not every race will even post up updates on social media either.
Getting an email from the rego company 3-9 months before the race, and then hearing nothing until two days out isn't a good look. esp when you have made mention of course changes from the previous years, but you haven't updated the course details. (Same for wave starts, or even if you are allowing on the day rego/bike racking)
A mention on the website of "we will update athlete info guide and send it out via email to the participants" is nice, but an idea of when that will happen would be good. (Having someone ask on Faceache 4 days pre-race with the response of "we should do that" is not a good look at all)
TLDR - Email - use it, even if it is the little things, like "2 months out from the race, here is what we have been doing, hope your training is going well" (Social media isn't a bad thing, just put everything on the website first, then link to that from socials, don't do it the other way around.)

Athlete briefings - these days, a phone has a good enough camera to video your RD taking, and video editing software comes with windows. build up a set of slides, images for course details, and do the briefing, and post it. Not hard.
If you have multiple races on the day, you might want to consider making sure that you bother to talk pre-race about the differences in courses, not just repeat the wave times and then send people off.
And if you are running an aquabike at the same time as a tri - please tell people about how the aquabike is going to finish. (And give them a finish line somewhere)

If you are doing day before racking, please talk about your security, everyone wants to get back to T1 on race day and know they are going to have a bike to ride (this may then come to the old statement  of don't have the most exxy/flashiest bike on the rack) 

Trying to remember back to my first few races.

Merch is important, a token to say you finished is important. Looking through the "so we plan on giving you last years medals/shirts" IMPort faceache post was somewhat eye opening, but from the point of view of the one and done crew, and I can see that many would feel rather jacked (etc. those who only signed up for this year). Personally, something basic is fine, and then if they want more, charge them for it, in my mind it stops some of the wastage.
Some description of intro to tri video might be a good idea (can be reused both through your race series, and year to year) and then make sure you have a transition walkthrough as well (assuming rego on the day/s before)

 

Other than that, I think most other things that came to mind has been covered by others.

[added extras I don't expect but think would be nice - proper gpx files of the bike and run courses, elevation graphs for a quick look would be good too. (IMPort is what, 900-1300m of climbing? but for those of us who haven't been there, where is the climbing? is it rollers out to Lake Cathie? or 90% MFD and everything else is as flat as Busso? - knowing this info is nice, and the large grain results from mapmyride isn't as good as it could be) - if you can, get a video camera out and drive/run the loops, then speed it up and link to it on youtube. (Better, stick the bike course on Fulgaz and Rouvy)] 

 

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back in the day....your ironman entry fee got you, a sticker a few months before, a competitor shirt, heaps of sponsors stuff in your bag, a finisher shirt, towel, and medal

I was appalled when i opened my bag at Mooloolaba to find one cliff bar and a very crappy visor. The towel was also pretty thin....

I am also shocked that Cairns doesn't look like it will have any carbo load party, nor awards night. It maybe due to covid, but i think your allowed to now. So, get a feeling i am going to do an ironman with a lack of atmosphere. 

ahh...the good old days.

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24 minutes ago, Prince said:

back in the day....your ironman entry fee got you, a sticker a few months before, a competitor shirt, heaps of sponsors stuff in your bag, a finisher shirt, towel, and medal

I was appalled when i opened my bag at Mooloolaba to find one cliff bar and a very crappy visor. The towel was also pretty thin....

I am also shocked that Cairns doesn't look like it will have any carbo load party, nor awards night. It maybe due to covid, but i think your allowed to now. So, get a feeling i am going to do an ironman with a lack of atmosphere. 

ahh...the good old days.

I can't speak on behalf of Ironman or any other corporate type event management group, but from the perspective of a small, part -time, just for shits and giggles event manager, the above quote resonates because it is one of the main issues I try and address with any event I am involved in - Value for money.

It is getting increasingly harder to offer value for money as costs just simply continue to increase, particularly for the intangibles or stuff that is imposed upon event organisers - think things like Insurance, COVID compliance and additional supplies etc etc.

As an example, for a small run event myself and another event manager partnered on in March, I would estimate we each contributed at least 100 hours each.  We have just finished paying all the bills and finalising sponsorship income, and I reckon if we are lucky, we might walk away with maybe $300 each for our time and effort.

We called in a lot of favours for in-kind support for everything from bin and toilet hire, to traffic management, to equipment hire. If we didn't have that support we absolutely would have lost money.

This is not a whinge at all, because we do it because we love it and want to, but there simply isn't always the fat to be able to offer a lot more than a simple, safe, well timed event without any bells and whistles.

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36 minutes ago, Ayto said:

I can't speak on behalf of Ironman or any other corporate type event management group, but from the perspective of a small, part -time, just for shits and giggles event manager, the above quote resonates because it is one of the main issues I try and address with any event I am involved in - Value for money.

It is getting increasingly harder to offer value for money as costs just simply continue to increase, particularly for the intangibles or stuff that is imposed upon event organisers - think things like Insurance, COVID compliance and additional supplies etc etc.

As an example, for a small run event myself and another event manager partnered on in March, I would estimate we each contributed at least 100 hours each.  We have just finished paying all the bills and finalising sponsorship income, and I reckon if we are lucky, we might walk away with maybe $300 each for our time and effort.

We called in a lot of favours for in-kind support for everything from bin and toilet hire, to traffic management, to equipment hire. If we didn't have that support we absolutely would have lost money.

This is not a whinge at all, because we do it because we love it and want to, but there simply isn't always the fat to be able to offer a lot more than a simple, safe, well timed event without any bells and whistles.

Is it harder to get retailers taking up a stall at an Expo before the event (assuming there is one). At Mooloolaba it was pretty poor, maybe a handful of retailers. At 70.3 Penrith, it was similar. If it is hard to get retailers to take a stall,  i don't know the specifics, but i wouldn't be charging them to have a stall. Better to get more opening. That way, this should hopefully translate into more sponsorship etc.   I mean the races are pretty full, so they have a definite target market in front of them 

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16 hours ago, Ayto said:

I can't speak on behalf of Ironman or any other corporate type event management group, but from the perspective of a small, part -time, just for shits and giggles event manager, the above quote resonates because it is one of the main issues I try and address with any event I am involved in - Value for money.

It is getting increasingly harder to offer value for money as costs just simply continue to increase, particularly for the intangibles or stuff that is imposed upon event organisers - think things like Insurance, COVID compliance and additional supplies etc etc.

As an example, for a small run event myself and another event manager partnered on in March, I would estimate we each contributed at least 100 hours each.  We have just finished paying all the bills and finalising sponsorship income, and I reckon if we are lucky, we might walk away with maybe $300 each for our time and effort.

We called in a lot of favours for in-kind support for everything from bin and toilet hire, to traffic management, to equipment hire. If we didn't have that support we absolutely would have lost money.

This is not a whinge at all, because we do it because we love it and want to, but there simply isn't always the fat to be able to offer a lot more than a simple, safe, well timed event without any bells and whistles.

This is spot on Ayto and the reason why I asked this question. Thanks NSF
 

 

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I didn't originally want to comment on this thread as after doing a whole range of races from IM to World Champs, to big but 'low key' races like Sri Chinmoy, to real casual events run by the local Footy Club or Service Club etc, I'm usually fairly happy with whatever I receive.  I'll usually support races that are good value, but sometimes I'll do races simply for what they offer in terms of self satisfaction.  For instance, there's no way that you'd consider most IM's as being good value, but if you want to call yourself an Ironman or go to Kona then that's just you've got to do.  The same thing with World Championships, if you want to qualify and go then it's going to cost you a few dollars.  At the other end of the spectrum, races that are put on without the intention of making a profit are usually great value.

I think the other guys have pretty much covered most of the 'desirables' in races, but it really depends on what sort of races you are offering.  If it is a qualifying race, or some kind of championships (eg Regional, State or Aus Champs etc) then accurate course measurements, accurate timing, and Age Group calf markings etc are really important.  If it's more of a fun event then good value entry fees, spot prizes and some kind of mementos are more likely what people will want.  If it's a 'challenging' event (eg a tough or longer course) then a finishers medal is something that's nice to have.

As a race director I think you've done the right thing already by considering what athletes want.  If it was me I'd be looking at what the additional costs are for providing all the 'nice' extras and consider if they are worth the additional cost.  For instance if you find that a finishers medal will only cost $4 per head, and you think that half the competitors would appreciate them, then why not get them. The competitors that aren't worried about them aren't going to be worried about an extra $4 on the entry fee.  If you are looking at putting on a cheap local fun race then an extra $20 for electronic race timing or $30 for a printed towel per competitor probably isn't worth it.  If it's a big race, and you are attracting competitors from interstate etc, the additional $50 (for the timing & towel etc) isn't that much in the scheme of things when you also consider the cost of travelling and accommodation anyway.  I hope that makes sense.

Either way good luck with it.  Like I said before, the fact that you're asking what competitors actually want means that you're already well on the right track of putting on a great event.  Let us know what events they are when you get them up and running as I'm sure a few of us may make the extra effort to get there regardless.

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Agree with most of the comments above.  I'll add:

- Minimal areas of congestion on the bike, especially around the mount and dismount area.  Limit the number of tight U-turns.  Do NOT require the number belt to be worn on the bike.

- Good signage on the run.  As your HR goes up, your IQ goes down, so the signs need to be idiot proof.  Also accurate KM markers (love it when my Garmin beeps within 20 metres of the sign).  Older blokes like me cannot always read all the fields on the Garmin without prescription glasses.

- Clearly marked routes and exit points in Transition. More space between racks and plenty of room to overtake when running with the bike.

- Design the swim course to avoid heading directly into the early morning sun.  Make sure the turning buoys are very different (size and colour) to the sighter buoys and try not to have the turning buoys too close together.  From the start line to the first buoy should be the biggest gap between buoys.

- If you can afford Live Timing, get a commentator to shout out the names as competitors come in and out of transition, or finishing a lap on the bike or run. Gives you a bit of a buzz to hear your name over the loud speaker while racing. Also lets your friends and family know you are coming.

- Plenty of post race hydration.  Food is great, but could live with just hydration.

- And I love events that provide post race massage.  Up to $10 per 15 min massage is good.

- Reasonable (ie. generous) course cutoff times for the slower competitors.  There was one event where my wife's wave start was delayed by 30 mins, but the cutoff time was not adjusted.  After a slow swim due to very rough water and a minor bike mechanical issue, she was REALLY pissed off when she couldn't start the last lap of the bike.  She refuses to ever race that Brand of event again (which means I can't either).

I wouldn't want a finishers medal or towel unless the event is at least a Half Ironman or World Championship.  Happy to race a Half Ironman on a good course with no finisher medals, towel or swag if it meant the price was significantly cheaper than a Ironman Branded event.

Edited by Rob
fixed typos
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I completely agree with @Cape_Hornre organisers not updating their website, but instead relying on Facebook to update things. It bugs crap out of me. By all means, use Facebook (or other means) but definitely still update the website and email pertinent/relevant info.

 

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16 hours ago, Rob said:

- Reasonable (ie. generous) course cutoff times for the slower competitors.  There was one event where my wife's wave start was delayed by 30 mins, but the cutoff time was not adjusted.  After a slow swim due to very rough water and a minor bike mechanical issue, she was REALLY pissed off when she couldn't start the last lap of the bike.  She refuses to ever race that Brand of event again (which means I can't either).

This is a good point, also, set what the times should be.
Two weeks ago I did a race, and the sheet said the but off time was 7 hours from start. (Half distance, or approx.)
I finished in just under 6 hours, so colour me surprised when three mins after I finished, the announcer makes the statement "And we have thirty minutes left before the last official finisher"
Apparently, when they said 7hours, that was from when the first race went off, thirty minutes before the first wave for the long distance, and the last wave (W40+) left forty minutes after that timer started.

Now, whether the announcer is correct or not, this is not something that the competitors will want to hear, esp when it was repeated, and some people still had another lap to run (5k laps).

Ie, "You have 7 hours from your start time, with the last wave expected to leave at 7:40, the finish line will close at 14:40, unless the last wave is delayed, in which case the line will close 7 hours after the last wave starts."

 

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