It’s 2012 and I think it’s safe to say the Internet is here to stay. That means if you are a race director, your race should have a website. However, I am continually surprised at how many races do not have a simple website in the year 2012 Anno Domini. I can tell you that any race that I am contemplating, I first check out their website and if they do not have a website, I would say that the odds of me not running that race increase significantly. My thought process assumes if they couldn’t spend the time to put together an informative website, the race will most likely be sub-par. It’s a generalization, but one that I have found to prove true.
A good race website does not need to be fancy, you can leave out the flash, KISS. The first decision that the race director needs to be make is whether or not to try to design their own website or pay someone else to design a website for them. Regardless you will need to decide on a content management system (CMS) that is easy to use, if you pay someone to design your website you don’t want to be dependent on them to edit the site. I personally am a big fan of WordPress, it’s free, flexible, powerful and there are vast amount of resources and templates available on the web.
When putting together your race website, here are some things to include:
This is your landing page and it needs to make a great first impression on the visitor. Keep it clean, simple and to the point. Make sure you include what time the race starts, location, who the race benefits and how they can register for your race. Also include a link to the online registration page. However, keep the information to a minimum and have pages set up as to not overwhelm the visitor.
Schedule of Events
Outline when registration and pre-registration open up, when they close and what time the race starts, if there is a kids’ run, let the parents know the start time and if they need to register their children. Let runners know what age groups will be awarded, prizes and if there will be a raffle. Sell the race.
Describe the race course in detail, note if the course is USATF certified and include a course map. Let runners know how many aid stations are on the course, if it’s a longer race will Gatorade and gels be provided. Let runners know if the course is run on roads, bike path,trail or dirt path.
Link to the online registration site and try to get as many people to register online as possible, to help control data integrity. If you are offering paper registration, link to the form. Outline your pricing, early entry fees, late entry, race day entry fees, etc. If you are offering onsite registration or at an offsite location such as a running store, spell out the details. Discuss race day registration, forms of payment that will be taken and what time registration will close on race day.
Results & Photos
Make results, both past and future easy to find. Link up to all of the old race results, note the course record holders and at the top put a link to where the most recent race results will be posted. Have your upcoming results link on your website a few days prior to the race, so that once the timer post results that link will be live. You can also use this page to link up to any photos from race photographers.
Establish a contact form, runners will have questions and you will want to be able to address their questions. I can tell you some FAQs will be can I run with a stroller and a dog, so address those questions on a seperate page to eliminate the possible question.
Putting together a great website, requires tinkering. If you get runners asking the same question over and over, be smart, address it on your website. I also am a proponent of establishing a blog and Facebook/Twitter page to continually communicate with your customers. This is your opportunity to brag about your race, recognize sponsors, show off your race t-shirt in advance, raffle prizes and give a shout out to any elite runners who might be running the race. After the race post photos and get people excited for the following year.