Planning a Trail Race: Part Two

Posted by Filed Under: Races & Racing

(Read parts one and three of this series.)
trail running

trail runningIn part one of this series we looked at the basics to getting started as a new race
director. By now you should have your race date, distance, location, size and name. Those
things alone aren’t going to get you very far. Very early on you should begin the process of obtaining a permit and insurance. Some people won’t deal with you and your race until they know there is a permit and/or insurance in place. These two items basically make your race “official.”


1. Get a permit/permission.
Wherever you plan to have your trail race, someone owns the land. It may be privately owned or government owned. If it is privately owned you may not need a permit but should obtain written permission from each and every person who owns land on your course. Some race directors have challenges with getting government permits. You need to figure out what government organization owns the land on your race (National Forest? Local City? State?). Contact the proper organization and give them as many details about your race as possible. Be kind and practice common courtesy because not having them on your side can but the brakes on your race altogether.

2. Insurance. Finding proper insurance does not need to be a difficult exerciser. If possible, talk to other race directors in the area—even if they are cycling race directors. All of them have had to deal with obtaining insurance and can give you a referral to a local company, saving you a lot of leg work. For a small extra fee you can add “additionally insured” to your insurance certificates. These are necessary to add partners and land owners to your insurance policy. Now you have a permit and insurance (or at least are in that process). Whether you are non-profit or for-profit, you are in the red financially. These two pieces may range from $300 to $1000+, depending on factors such as location, size, and profitability status of your race. For the Twin Peaks Trail Ultra in Orange County, insurance for 100 people and a National Forest permit came to around $500. Keep in mind the permit can cost substantially more if you are profit-taking venture. Since you are an “official” race now, we’ll cover the next two steps briefly in this month’s article.

3. Get Sponsors. Sponsors are a very important part of your race. Runners will want to know what aid is going to be provided along the course and a partnership with

sponsors can help provide water, energy gels, and other necessities that you would

otherwise have to purchase yourself. Sponsors can also provide raffle and winners’ prizes

as well as goodies for the race bags.

4. Advertising. Advertising is also critical. How will people sign up for your race if they have never heard of it? There are traditional sources of advertising such as running magazines and Web sites, or grass roots types of advertising such as mailing lists and word of mouth. You might even want to take out a paid ad if your budget and race are large enough.

In part 3, I will go into more detail on sponsors and how to get them, as well as what advertising options might be available to you.

About Jessica

Jessica lives in Orange County, CA, home to hundreds of miles of trails and 30% green space along with the Santa Ana Mountain Range. After moving to California from artic Minnesota in January of 2005, she quickly became addicted to trail running, and upon meeting Dean Karanzes at a book signing was inspired to run her first marathon, and subsequently ultra marathon. She completed here first 50K race in July of 2006 and has 50 and 100 mile aspirations. In a short amount of time, Jessica has been active in the Orange County running scene by re-igniting the Saddleback church running group, founding a trail running group, and starting in 2007 launching a series of trail races throughout the county, beginning with the Twin Peak Ultra Marathon in February. In 2002, Jessica had open-heart surgery to repair a leaky mitral valve. Aside from running, Jessica is also a published author and an independent filmmaker. She works as an Information Security Engineer and part time at the flagship Nike Women store. When not out on the trails, working, blogging, writing, making films, or promoting races, Jessica can be found relaxing with her friends at the movies, lounging by the pool, or sharing a tasty meal and a good bottle of wine.

One Comment
  1. Planning a Trail Race: Part One » Complete Running Network on March 11th at 5:01 pm

    […] parts one, two and three of thisseries.) […]