The Five Habits of Highly Effective Race Directors - Part 5

February 4, 2017

Runners who feel an emotional connection with your event are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend it to friends


RaceRaves is the premiere online community for runners to find and review racesAt RaceRaves we’re in the unique position of hearing honest feedback from finishers on both ends of the spectrum, disgruntled to euphoric. Understanding what motivates and captivates your potential audience is the key to creating an event that keeps ‘em talking long after they cross the finish line.


Today we conclude our series on the five habits of highly effective race directors. These are practices which consistently garner the most positive responses and the strongest word-of-mouth, and which every race director can implement in some way.


Habit #5: Build a sense of camaraderie and loyalty


We all appreciate events that go the extra mile to make the experience special, and runners are no exception. Runners who feel an emotional connection with your event are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend it to friends. As a race director, there are winning strategies you can employ to inspire a sense of camaraderie and loyalty among your runners.


Miracle Match MarathonMost importantly, play to your strengths—recognize what makes your race special and use that to create a shared bond among your runners. The Queen Bee Half Marathon, for example, “celebrates the comradery between women” by providing “a unique experience where women are encouraged and pampered in every aspect of the registration, run, and post-race preparations”. By contrast, the Miracle Match Marathon embraces its reputation as a hilly and demanding course, even adding extra challenges such as a Jalapeño Challenge and Jacob’s Ladder climb at mile 24 that “will make you question your sanity”. By the time they cross the finish line, Miracle Match participants are united in their pride at having conquered what many agree is “The Toughest Little Marathon in Texas”. And it shows in their rave reviews.


Reward loyalty by recognizing your returning (and especially legacy) runners. This might entail something as simple as posting signs along the course to acknowledge repeat runners, as do the organizers of the Hatfield McCoy Marathon. Or you might entice multi-year finishers with bonus perks—the Long Beach Marathon and Surf City Marathon reward members of their Beach Bum Club and Longboard Legacy Club, respectively, based on the number of consecutive finishes.


With a little creativity, this strategy can extend to all runners and benefit multiple events. For example, consider partnering with the organizers of other nearby events to offer a unique finisher medal or other exclusive swag to runners who complete all races in the series. Surf City and Long Beach partner with the OC Marathon on the ever-popular Beach Cities Challenge, while runners who complete the Kansas City Marathon and Des Moines Marathon on consecutive days earn bragging rights (and special swag) in the I-35 Challenge.


Every runner has a unique story, and going above and beyond to recognize this will surprise and delight your finishers. Several races, for instance, reward Boston qualifying times in creative ways including the BQ gong that is a familiar post-race sound at the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. And many reviewers express appreciation for enthusiastic finish line announcers who acknowledge every finisher, with some even admitting to disappointment if their name isn’t called.




Highly effective race directors create an event that inspires participants by always putting the runner first. Empower your runners with a compelling and supportive race day experience, and they in turn will reward you with their loyalty and positive word of mouth. Never forget, your finishers are your best evangelists! If you’d like help implementing these suggestions and/or harnessing the power of your finishers to capture strong word of mouth, we’d love to hear from you at And we hope to see you at next month’s Running USA Industry Conference, where we’ll be co-facilitating a Race Camp on “Standing out! Differentiating your event”. See you in Orlando!


In case you missed it, check out:

Habit #1: Create a compelling identity

Habit #2: Set expectations to minimize unwelcome surprises

Habit #3: Ensure full support for every runner

Habit #4: Provide a great value


About RaceRaves

RaceRaves is the premier online race finder and reviews community for endurance athletes around the world to connect, share their race experiences and find their next challenge. With thousands of member reviews from all 50 states and over 40 countries, we work with events of all sizes—including the Cowtown, Destination Races, the Fargo Marathon, the Missoula Marathon and RaceForce—to mobilize their finishers to help spread the word and attract new runners. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help re-engage your finishers to capture strong word of mouth, or if you’d like more information on our consulting services to help differentiate your event, please drop us a line at

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