This is a guest post from Matt B. Davis, a blogger, podcaster, and avid participant of endurance and Mob™ events. You can tune into his weekly podcast here.
As a veteran of mud runs and obstacle races, I am always looking for a new challenge. There are five main factors I use to base my decision to register for an event:
Everybody and their mother are designing an obstacle race that is “A 5K with obstacles, mud, a great party and a free beer at the end.” So if I see a new race and they promise me more distance than that, I am usually very interested. A 6-8 mile distance race is great. A 10-12 mile event is even better!
If there is a new race I am considering, one of the first things I do is to search in Google or in Facebook groups to see if there are any discount codes available. I once registered for a race that was only $39. At that rate, I could not go wrong. Even if the race was less than stellar, my expectations were low because I paid less than 40 bucks.
I put these together because traveling to races with friends has become a huge part of my decision to race or not. I may not be likely to drive 4-6 hours to do a race alone. However, there is a core group of friends that have begun to travel together. Then the race is just one part of the trip. The other parts are the camaraderie, breaking bread together, and good-natured ribbing that takes place before and after the race. Also, licking our wounds and celebrating our wins together makes the event so much more enjoyable. In short, if they are going, I am going.
I trust my fellow obstacle racers. If I look online and see mostly bad reviews, I won’t do the race. You have a lot of work to do before I spend my money at your event. However if I see just a few negative amongst several positive, I can look the other way on the bad.
Find something new to offer. These are some the things that have impressed me at various events: a unique medal, an obstacle no one has ever seen, a larger more outrageous version of an obstacle I have seen, a night wave, a couples wave, a singles wave. If a race director puts his mind to it, I am sure they can think of something new. As I said up front, if the only thing you can say is “We have a great event, it’s 3 miles, has mud and obstacles, is outrageous and crazy, and we will give you a free beer at the end,” I will pass. But if you have something original to offer, you’ll grab my attention.
Race Directors – What do you think?
- What are the benefits of plotting a 5K course? A longer course?
- What are the pros and cons of offering discounts, and how do you weigh the promotional impact vs. protecting your bottom line?
- How do you make your event social and group friendly?
- Do you track participant feedback about your event? How?
- Creating a strong brand for your event is obviously important. What do you think is the best way to stand out from the crowd and give participants something unique each year?