How to Be a Race Director

We need more races in this sport. How convenient for you, because you — as it turns out — want to put on race. I know what you're thinking. Your job is going to be to yell, Uno! Dos! One-two-tres-quatro! and shoot the starting gun. Then you'll retreat to your seat behind the CD trays and equalizer, and you'll spend the rest of the day being the deejay. Others on your race committee will put on the actual event.

Nice deal if you can get it, but the deejay jobs are taken. What will really happen on race day, should you decide to put on your own event, is that you'll be the point man for everything bad that happens. When the port-a-potties run out of toilet paper, when the police don't show up at a controlled intersection, and an aid station doesn't get its water delivered, you're the one scrambling. It's an exercise in limiting the cracks in the dam to the number of your available fingers.

Still interested? About 20 years ago I wrote this series about 10 years ago I reprised and updated this series. Now I'm going to do it a 3rd time and I'll be interested to see how much updating I'll need to do. Here goes...

Producing one is rarely as glamorous in real life as it is in your dreams. It's thankless until it's all over and you get the pats-on-the-back from those participants thoughtful enough to realize what value you've added to their lives.

But on day-zero, when the gun goes off, what really happens is that you fall down on your knees and say, "God, I know I haven't paid very much attention to you over the past 20 years, but if you can just see to it that there are no drownings or spinal cord injuries on this day, at this race, I'll never masturbate again."

In fact, if this or something like it isn't your prayer on race day, you have no business being in the race direction business. If your goal isn't to put on the best race, with the best course, the best aid stations, the best post-race food, and the best overall value, ever delivered in the history of multisport, take a moment to rethink things. Perhaps, after your race is entirely over and everybody's in safely, you'll have an opportunity to actually see how it all went — who won and who lost, stuff like that. If that isn't enough glory for you, don't even start down the road of race promotion. Let others who are better equipped for this task give it a shot.

But if you think you're the man (or woman) for this job, here's what you've been waiting for. In this series we'll tell you what you need to do to get yourself started. The rest is up to you. Maybe your race will never — and should never — get off the ground. Or maybe your efforts will bring about the next Wildflower Triathlon.

One thing: what you'll read below is mostly personal accounts and experiences. It's not a manual for race production. It's not comprehensive. It's more anecdotes than how-to. Take what's useful, leave the rest.

The Series:

How to Be a Race Director
Picking a Course
Pacify the Locals
Getting That Special Event Permit
Assembling Your Race Committee
Your Race Budget
• Traffic Plan
• Getting Volunteers
• Getting Sponsors
• Attracting Media
• Filling Your Race
• Aid Stations