One of the first school races we put on was in Florida in 2016. The school had wanted to put on a 5K for their running club and open it to the public as well to help raise funds for the school club.
There were several challenges going into putting on the run.
#1 was we really didn’t have much marketing power.
Aside from the school’s own internal efforts to get the word out through its club, we did not have influencers, companies, or much funds to risk on marketing ROI via paid ads. Nonetheless, we still were able to bring out about 230 participants total; a little less than half coming from the school itself.
This isn’t an abnormal problem to have; in fact it’s the biggest struggle for any event. As I always say, if you have the money to put on an event, anything is possible. But without money, it becomes more and more difficult with less resources.
#2 was the difficulty of the logistics
The run required several departments approval with the County, street closures with County deputies, and 3 of our staff to setup the course, coordinate all of the vendors, and manage packet pickup area and the race site.
Since we weren’t in Florida, it was difficult to pass back and forth the needed paperwork between each of the various departments. Particularly when the County required in-person submission of documents.
After the school had approved of the race, we only had less than 2 months to get the needed approvals from the County. It took us up until the last day before the event to get the final permit.
There was a required notification needed to submit in a local newspaper we had missed in the extensive requirements. (Note* the entirety of the permit was due to the fact we were closing down roads… so if at all possible, it’s usually better if no public streets need to be closed).
Logistically, we were able to borrow a number of needed items from the school, we had our own essential equipments (timing, start/finish structures, participant items) but one important item was still missing… the cones for the course.
The unfortunate thing about this event was the cones were expensive as no vendors we could find had 18″ cones – only the large industrial 26″ cones which required a large truck to have to drop off and deliver. Since the truck will not setup the course for you, our staff had to use a mini van to bring out 5-10 cones at a time to put out the 250+ cones.
The course was a 3-loop run to complete the 5K which made logistics significantly simpler but still required the presence of deputies and our own staff to direct the course.
Ultimately, the expenses were heavy and the marketing was rough. It’s one of the most difficult combinations to work through. But because we saved on a number of things including travel, equipment, participant items, and simplified course, surprisingly the event still was barely in the green.
The event only profited by a couple hundred dollars but the school was able to raise a few thousand dollars through sponsors and companies that were willing to benefit the school race.