Don’t Get Tripped Up: Overcoming the Most Common Permit Issues

Don't trip up on getting your race permits and clearances

To hold a successful race event, you need permission from the right authorities, also known as permits. Getting your permits in order will give you the authority to ask for security and other help, as well as precedence over other events that may want to use your course. Also, permits make your event legal, period.

There are at least 4 main areas to navigate to make sure you get the permits you need.


First and foremost, check your calendar now to make sure that you have at least six months to a year before your event. You’ll need to submit your paperwork and give the city enough time to evaluate your event and its needs. Depending on the length of your course, where you plan to hold it, and how many participants you expect to attend, it may take longer.

Secondly, you should check to make sure there aren’t any other events planned in your city at the same time that could conflict with your event. If someone has a race event the same weekend you do, it could reduce your turnout exponentially, not to mention your chances of getting the city to allow you to hold another race during the same time period. If someone else has any part of your course reserved, you’ll either have to re-route or find another time. Do your research to make sure your race is timed properly.

City Officials

Depending on your city’s rules, there may be several departments you have to contact for permitting. You’ll at least need a permit from your city government, and possibly the local police department. But there are other concerns to take into account as well, such as street or bike path closures, parking concerns, and the impact of crowds in general.

Make a list of any community members who could be affected by your race and be prepared to ask for their support. Getting these community members on your side early on and letting them know how your race will benefit them and their businesses will help you make your case to the city.

How to Get Your City Behind Your Race


Be prepared to be flexible in every aspect of your race. Remember that there are probably hundreds of other community members asking the city for permits, and you’ll have to work with them to make sure your event stands out as being worthwhile.

Be ready to justify your race’s economic impact on the city, and how it can benefit the community, rather than being a hassle. Prepare alternate race routes in advance, taking into account possible natural issues like flooding or other community events. Have a list of preferred dates ready, as well as variable start times, and a case for each of them.

Don’t forget to have your insurance paperwork ready as well. Show the city officials that you take their time seriously and they will take you more seriously.


Permits cost money. The bigger and more complex your event, the more it may cost you, into the thousands of dollars. Permitting is actually one of the biggest costs of any race event. But the permits are also what make your event possible, which makes it worthwhile.

Overall, permitting is an extremely important, if time-consuming and expensive part of race event planning. But with the right amount of preparation, getting the right permits for your race can be more straightforward and less difficult.

For more ideas, check out our webinar on permits and financing.