Last week, This girl, This girl, This girl,and This girl, I went to an event put on by Ram Racing. The executives of the company wanted to connect with people in the Southern California community and generate buzz for the Hot Chocolate 15k series. It was cool to go because simply learning about the management side of racing is so interesting to me. They were nice to host us, and I think connecting with the community is a great step on their part. (No, I didn't confront them about the DC disaster, but rest assured that the rest of the girls did multiple times.)
One thing they talked about was who the race series is marketed to:
Just like any product, there's a target audience to any race series. In the case of the Hot Chocolate race series, the executives said it's targeted towards first time runners, women, and people wanting a cool experience. This is probably a really good idea, because that's the fastest growing segment of the running population and a good way to make lots of $$.
If you talk to any runner that's been running since the 90s, they will give you this "back in the day, stuff was cheap, people but their heads down and raced, and races didn't fill up in a day" spiel . I'm more of a 90s runner, but things have changed, and the growing population of runners has a growing number of needs and wants. Which made me think my own race "must haves":
Stuff I Gotta Have:
Aid Stations: People who carry water when racing deserve a medal because that sounds really hard and annoying. When I race, I want water and a sports drink that is not coconut water (yes, that happened once, thank you Malibu Marathon).
Accurate Mile Markers: Measure the mile, put a marker. 'Nuf said.
Accurately Measured Course: I have yet to race a course that is short, but this would be a heart breaker. What the heck was drinking all that water and going to bed early the night before for if I couldn't even race the distance?
Good Logistics: This means corrals if appropriate, enough parking, quick packet pickup, and an on-time start. Gear check is nice too, although seldom works as planned. Basic, yet surprisingly hard to achieve.
Ample places to pee: With toilet paper and short lines, please. Woods are an acceptable alternative.
Would be nice:
Chip Timing: I've run a couple non-chipped 5ks. This is fine if the race is small. A race without chip timing should be cheap.
Entertainment on Course: This one is kind of a dumb one, but I can distinctly remember running around mile 17 of the Chicago marathon in 2009 and hearing one of my favorite songs at the time. It was magical.
Race Day Packet Pickup: Come on y'all, you're gonna make me drive to your race TWICE? Unless you're expecting 20,000, just let me get my stuff on race day. I'm more sensitive to this because I live in the boonies for Southern California and everything is a drive.
Tech Tee: Only if it fits. I'll pay more for something fitted and non-ugly. Of course, those things are in the eye of the beholder.
Pretty Course: Great scenery or crowds help me get through a long race.
Cool after race "party": The last thing I want to do after a race is party. An after race free ride home would be even cooler. Unless there is beer. Then it's nice to have.
Medals and Schwag: I get that some people like medals. I just don't care. I have enough junk in my house.
Money Prizes: This opinion could change about cash prizes if I can knock off about a minute per mile off my current races. I expect that to be not hard to do at all. NBD, y'all.
Age Group Prizes: This may require a separate post, but I don't get age group awards. Unless you're under 15 or over 45, we're all in the same age group: The "Healthy Adult" age group.
What are your race must haves? What do you not care about as much?
Any race horror stories (or awesome stories) to share?