February 22, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook in a recent earning call stated that at Apple “We believe in simple, not the complex.”
I’m a firm believer in Kelly Johnson’s KISS principle. KISS is an acronym for Keep it simple, Stupid!
Having timed, spectated and run, literally hundreds of races over the past few years, I am amazed at how complex some race directors make their races. Here is my KISS advice to race directors.
Multiple Events – The logic for most race directors is that the more events that I offer, the more runners that I can attract to my event.
This is partially true, what is also true is the more events that you put on the greater the chance you have of screwing up. If you’re a first time race director and you’re contemplating putting on a 5K and a 10K, my advice is learn to put on a great 5K before you add the 10K, KISS.
When putting on multiple events you open yourself up to problems. Runners will sign up for one event and run in another, which can impact results. You have to manage multiple courses and make sure that runners stay on the correct course. Those are just a few examples.
Walk Division – The logic usually goes like this, not everyone will run the race, so lets have a walk division and award prizes. The walk division is a huge headache.
When your race features a walk division, inevitable you get a few serious race walkers and hundreds of other people who see the box “run or walk” and check walk since they will be walking most of the race. The race starts and a few of these “walkers” run the first mile and walk the rest and win the race. Then you have the serious race walker coming in 4th or 5th and gripping that the “walkers” in front of him didn’t walk, they ran part of the race.
KISS, it’s a headache and a fight that’s not worth.
If you want to truly put on a race walk, then you have to hire USATF judges who stand out on the race course and judge whether or not the race walkers are truly race walking. This is an added cost, but it’s about the only way to properly put on a race walk. Wait, you thought the drama ended with the USATF judges, nope. I’ve worked several races where race walkers were disqualified by the judges and then the race walkers delayed results and argued with the race director and myself that they should not have been disqualified. This is one of those instances where a few people make it such a big headache, that I say scrap the walk division and just put everyone in the same division.
Teams – Races with team divisions can be a lot of fun, but once again if you’re new to race directing -KISS.
The problem with teams is you have to be meticulous with the parameters that you set up and state prior to the race how the team event will be scored. You need to establish the maximum number on each team, the minimum number, are you going to have male teams, female teams, co-ed teams and if you have co-ed teams how many women does each team need to have and how many will score. When you establish that team category, everything has to be thought out carefully before you start taking registrations; otherwise you will run into problems.
In conclusion, if you’re goal is to put on a 5K that grows, my KISS advice is to put on a simple 5K but do it well. Multiple events, walk divisions, and teams are one way for you to grow your numbers but you have to decide if the juice is worth the squeeze.