Creating a Race Registration Form: The Basics

by Stef Wade – Active Endurance contributor

Big D sample race registration form

When you get things right from the start, the end is so much easier. That’s why creating and customizing a comprehensive race registration form for your event, from the very beginning, is a crucial step in making sure your event runs smoothly.

There is so much potential information you can gather from your participants. The question is: how much is too much? It’s important to walk the fine line between getting the right amount of info and bogging your participants down with too much to fill out.  Asking too much risks alienating or sometimes losing participants altogether. We’ve all been halfway through an online form, looked at how much was left to fill out, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort after all. Decide what options and information are the most important to you and make it count. Arrange it so it’s simple and to the point.

If you have ACTIVE Works Endurance, we’ve included some sample race registration forms as templates for your event, but remember – every race is different. You may want to have all of these steps and more or you may want to eliminate some sections from your own registration form. The details are up to you. Just make sure you think about every step before launching your event.

It’s always best to start with the basics. You want your participants to know exactly what they’re registering for as well as where and when your event is taking place. Including a brief description, date, time (all times, if there are multiple races or waves) and location with a link for directions is a must. Surprises in logistics always cause problems later. Also include any other information that is unique to your event on the race registration form. It will save your registrants from clicking around to be sure they are registering in the right place. It will also save you countless hours of answering emails.

When customizing your event registration form, include every possible registration option for your participants. Are there different distances, races or waves? Different price breakdowns based on distance or age? Can they register as an individual or part of a team? Breaking these down at the very beginning is a crucial step to success leading up to and the day of the event. And don’t forget to plan ahead for changes in prices, based on early-bird registration.

Collect any personal information you think you need for the race, including contact information, age, gender, t-shirt size. The participant information section is also a good place to sneak in a little market research for yourself. Ask how they heard about the race so you can analyze which of your marketing tactics worked the best. Make that mandatory and bam! You’ve got yourself a quantifiable market research analysis.

While you should add as much information as you need, make sure it’s relevant. Some participants may have privacy concerns. If this is a concern, allow answering those questions to be optional.

We all know our participants can’t jump over fire or trudge through rough terrain without signing a waiver. Add all the legal jargon into the online registration form so you can skip this cumbersome step on the day of the event. Make sure it includes weather, cancellations, liability information, refund information and any other items your lawyers are stressing about. All of your electronically signed waivers will exist neatly on your site instead of in a messy file folder.

You’re probably giving out a free t-shirt, but hopefully you’re maximizing your earning potential and offering other race swag for purchase. Give your participants the ability to order race merch ahead of time and ensure they get the size and item they want. Or they can simply skip the step if they only want the freebies.

Do you accept multiple types of payment? Credit cards? PayPal? Make sure you have all the required fields and options to process them. Also remember that billing addresses may be different from the participant’s home or mailing address in the original registrant information, so ask them to confirm it’s the same or leave space for the new billing address.

A custom event registration form is the perfect place to emphasize your brand. Include your logo and look. Use your graphics, photos, fonts and headers. Make sure to promote your sponsors as well! You might be able to earn extra revenue by selling space on your form.

The more you prepare ahead of time, the less you will stress when organizing for the day of the race. You have the option to customize, so make your registration materials your own! You’ll be happy you did in the end.