By Chad Corsentino
Senior Account Manager, ACTIVE Network
“To pre-assign or not to pre-assign bibs, that is the question.”
After 15 years in the telecom business, I got the itch for a career/lifestyle change. I had signed up for my first full IRONMAN® and went into obsessive training mode.Then I started helping out with racing events. In short order, I started working for a local race production company and went from pseudo-intern to Race Director in a few short months.
After a full season of producing runs and triathlons, I can say that producing races is arguably one of the hardest, most stressful jobs I have ever done! It is an exercise in a million details similar to Thanksgiving dinner: Hours of preparation all gone in the blink of an eye. (Unlike Thanksgiving, where you have a year to recover, most of you immediately move on to the next race, ensuring your permits, police, course, volunteers, toilets, etc… are ready to go for race morning.)
The Problem with Check-In and Bib Pick-up
One area I always thought could be better was bib pick-up. What was our rationale for pre-assigning bibs before PPU? Think about it. You pull the file, assign your bib range, allocate for registrations after assignment, validate with your timer, coordinate volunteers, label, collate and sometimes build a gigantic bib board. And what about all the unused bibs you couldn’t re-allocate because there was no discernable range left? All of this took a ton of work and time, but it was the norm. We knew nothing different. (Today, pre-assignment is still needed if you’re putting the racer’s name on the bib or you’re doing a sprint triathlon with a pool swim.)
Technology evolved, though. With guidance from ACTIVE clients, our development team launched its first iteration of the ACTIVE On-Site application for iPhone and Android in 2016.
Although we used ACTIVE for registration and management, the ACTIVE On-Site app wasn’t available at the time. I can say with 100% confidence that if we had had the On-Site app, it would have made life easier, both operationally and financially. The technology allows organizers to eliminate all the pre-work and save money on unused bibs/chips. Here’s how:
Traditional PPU vs. ACTIVE On-Site App
Current Process: A week or more prior to PPU, the organizer pulls the registration report and sends timer the bib ranges. Ranges are loaded into scoring software. Chips are attached to bibs. Bibs are collated and labeled. Volunteers are coordinated to build packets.
- The time and coordination needed for all the pre-work.
- The usage of two disparate systems (registration and scoring software).
- Inefficiency in managing registration changes.
The average cost of a bib & chip is between $1 and $2. Average attrition for a running event is 15 to 20%. Add in the number of people who pick up their bib but don’t race and it can represent a lot of money. For a 1000-person event, using pre-assignment, you could lose $300 at an average bib/tag price of $1.50 per, leaving the organizer with disparate bib ranges that are difficult to re-allocate.
ACTIVE On-Site Process: The application provides organizers with mobile capability to check runners in and assign bib numbers via a flexible/mobile registration process in lieu of paper registration.
- Check in racers and assign bib numbers at PPU.
- Racers arrive to PPU. They are guided to the table/tables for dynamic bib allocation to the category they signed up for.
- Racers are scanned in and assigned bib within 5 to 10 seconds.
- All records automatically update within the ACTIVE registration system.
- Your timer pulls the file prior to the start of the race for scoring.
Unused bib ranges can be easily re-allocated to other events because the ranges have been distributed in succession, saving the race organizer considerable money on unused bibs.
The Late Registration Advantage
A significant benefit of the On-Site app is the expanded registration window it gives organizers and racers. Registration trends over the years have evolved. Today, between 50 – 90% of your field will register within the final two weeks up to your event. ACTIVE On-Site allows organizers (and timers) to allow even walk-up registrations efficiently. Keeping registration open until the last minute not only increases participation and revenue, it also streamlines the racers’ experience at PPU.
Technology has afforded us the ability to re-think how we run this part of the race production. As an organizer, you want all operations to run as efficiently as possible. As a racer, you want to enjoy the event you’ve spent money on. ACTIVE On-Site is a win for both objectives.