Organisation 100%

Over the past five years I have either organised or been part of the organising team for around 30 open races. Yet despite ensuring that race packs go out on time, the course is well marshalled, there is plenty of water, results are produced in a timely fashion, first aid support, good pre/post race facilities are available etc I have never achieved 100% in the "Organisation box" in the Runners World ratings.

 I have also attended races that didn't provide all of what I consider to be the critical organisational  factors (those that I have mentioned above) and yet they have managed the coveted 100%, so what do you the runners want?


  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    I want to know how long a piece of string is.....

    there is no easy answer to the question Wrinty - those that aren't giving your races 100% must think there is something not quite up to 100% but that will vary I am sure form runner to runner
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I've never done a race I would give 100% to.

    They NEVER have enough toilets!

  • sheddysheddy ✭✭✭

    I suppose it's because there's so many little things that go into getting a race to run smoothly and if even one goes slightly wrong, people will remember it and mark it down a little. To get 100% that would mean absolutlely everything has to be spot on which would be pretty difficult. If you get people consistantly rating it at 4 out of 5 then I'd be pretty satisfied with that, to be honest.

    Having said that, of the 7 or 8 races I've done so far I did give the last one I did full marks for organisation, which was the Lee Valley 10K. I can't think of anything that went wrong, easy parking right next to the start/finish, started on time, friendly marshals at every junction, results out promptly etc. There was even enough toilets!

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I'll make a note of that one Sheddy!  It'll be the first race that ever did, in my (considerable) experience.

    Depends what you think is "enough", I suppose.

    I don't consider queing for 15 minutes to be acceptable, and I certainly don't think there are enough if the start has to be delayed to allow all those waiting to 'go' as happened earlier this year!

  • sheddysheddy ✭✭✭

    Well, I think there were about 15 or so, which was more than I've seen at similar sized races. When we used them about 20mins before the start we didn't even have to queue and while there was a bit of a line later I never noticed it getting particularly long.

    The race started bang on time too which is usually a good sign everyone has managed to go who needed to.

  • The problem is that everybody wants to go right before the start. If you have 1000 runners and 500 of them want to go in the last 10 minutes then how do you handle that? Do you order 50 toilets costing several thousand pounds and putting up the race price by £2 per runner, thereby losing you entrants because you're too expensive? Or do you order less thereby keeping the price down and hope that the runners will start to queue in time so that they can all be done in time for the start? It's all a balancing act, and the same event will get you praise on having enough toilet facilities and criticism for not having enough.

  • Same here, I've only ever scored one event with 100% and that was the Bluewater 10k, you run at 8am, it has a several thousand car park to use because the place is empty til 10. Toilets all around the place and when you finish the use of the shopping area facilities etc
    Sometimes being an organiser can be a thankless task, even though you know its perfect someone will find a fault with anything in the slightest.
  • If I get a pb then the race tends to get higher marks - which is totally unfair of course but rating anything is subjective.

    Re organisational 100%, I have done a few that should rate that but they tended to be either quite small (East KIlbride half, dumbarton half) and so they impress because you're not expecting great things or enormous (i.e Glasgow half or London marathon) and like Wilkie - it ALWAYS comes down to the toilets and the car parking.
  • goldbeetlegoldbeetle ✭✭✭
    Toilets cost a fortune and as we organise races on a shoestring and profit margins are so slim if at all, do have higher prices and more lavs or keep it realistic and queue for a bit longer?
  • I don't know how what you do but something that always impresses me about a race is if there is an email or flyer explaining no of toilets/positions of and same re car parking.

    It's fine to have people queuing a little longer so long as the race doesn't start before the queue ends - and have a marshal or organiser keeping the toilet queue informed.

    (if you want to know how to organise a race badly then just do a big race in edinburgh - they have done SOOOO many things badly when I have been racing there).
  • goldbeetlegoldbeetle ✭✭✭

    We have order more and more toilets each year and there is always a queue (mainly ladies the blokes go in the bushesimage)

    Its getting to the point where Portaloos are a major expense and prices will reflect this in future, each year we  send out with race instructions details of parking we are lucky that we are town centre,  plenty of parking

    As a race director you must balance profitability with quality of service to the customer/entrant so lavs are important as is parking

    I seem to remember massive lines of people at FLM so it effects all races I suppose

  • I only started racing last year and have only done 5 races, but I'm sure I marked a couple of them at 100% for organisation.  Perhaps I'm easy to please because I haven't much experience.  Lack of toilets is where I would mark down. I did a fairly small race this year where the spectators weren't 'fenced off', so some of them were wandering around (as were dogs off their leads) within the last 20 m or so before the finish line, totally getting in the way of runners who were trying to do fast finishes!
  • Car parking is a tricky one, because even with the best planning and organisation in the world you're dealing with some selfish drivers who seem to expect to be able to turn up 5 minutes before the start and then park yards from the start line. The race I help organise clearly states in the final instruction that the site will be closed 10 minutes before the race starts to ensure that the course is clear of cars, and that there can be 1k walk from car park to start line for the later arrivals. Despite this we've had critical comments from people about the length of the walk to the start and about the fact that they couldn't get onto the site because they were late. And it's often even worse on the way out, when rather then exit in an orderly manner, everybody heads for the exit from all directions at once, taking any possible shortcut they can if they think it will get them 1 car ahead. I remember complete gridlock in the car park after the Windsor Half a few years ago simply because drivers wouldn't follow instructions and turned it into a free-for-all - the marshals gave up and left them to it. I cycle to this race now.
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    The Paddock Wood half had a huge number of runners, and a large number of toilets.  There was a queue, but because there were plenty of loos, it went down quickly.  That was the best race for toilets that I've done recently.  If they can do it without charging huge entry, so can anyone.

    Organisers could maybe consider a 'porta-urinal' for the gents?  I saw them at the Tour de France event in Hyde Park a couple of years ago.  They save the blokes having to queue for a pee, and that makes the queue shorter for those who need a cubicle.

    I also tried using a female urinal recently.  It worked very well, and I'd use one rather than queue - but I can't see them catching on. 

  • I went behind a hedge when i did a half marathon this year! Lucky it was in the countryside.
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    Wilkie wrote (see)

    I also tried using a female urinal recently ... but I can't see them catching on. 

    It would probably hurt if it caught on and would hardly help your running gait ...

  • Paddock Wood would certainly get 100% for organisation from me.  I do it year after year and, as Wilkie says, there are plenty of loos.  They are also very clear about car parking, and though there may be a bit of a walk to the start if you arrive late, the race organisers can hardly be held responsible for that. 
  • I've only done one race (Edinburgh marathon) where there was a porta-urinal but it can make a big difference to the loo queue.  Just make sure you put really obvious signs to it, so the blokes don't stand in the queue until they finally get to the front and realise it's there.

    In Paris they solved the problem a different way, all the blokes just weed everywhere!

  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    I'm happy to pee in the bushes if there are some image , but in city races there usually arent!

    The major problem seems to be that race organisers use equal amounts of loos for men and women when women take longer so really they should have more loos - blackpool half was a case in point - huge queue for the ladies no queue for the mens (I just went in the mens in the end image), but it was still a great race so the loo thing doesnt ruin a race for me...

    More important for me are nice marshalls, starting on time and speedy results image

  • It could be hard to get full points because people are sometimes more likely to leave feedback when they have something negative to say?! I'm sure this is not always the case with runners but can be apparent in other areas eg those leaving feedback on hotel/trip websites.

    Plus, 100% suggests perfection - perhaps people who grade less can think of one or more small improvements that would be possible and therefore a "perfect" score isn't awarded.

    Orienteering races often have a mens urinal wall which tends to work well. They never split mens' and womens' portable loos as this just leads to empty toilets with people waiting. The loo question is tough because they are very expensive and as mentioned here, they are used constantly for a short period of time, then very little for the remainder. In an area where there are fewer bushes and other concealed "natural loos", it's definitely important to have more.

    I'd rather pay less for an event and queue for a "reasonable" time, ie up to 5 minutes. That said, it's pretty stressful if you're in a loo queue and you should be warming up or getting to your start position. I don't envy organisers who have to make the decision!

  • SeelaSeela ✭✭✭
    We managed to get 98% overall and 97% for organisation
  • Mr KMr K ✭✭✭

    Not seen a 100%, 100 % event but these two must be close..

    98%, 99% Mick n Phil

    96%, 98% Hogweed Hilly

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