Below is a guest post from my dear friend Amber about the process of organizing a race for a cause you’re passionate about and some of the logistical hurdles that come up along the way. You can read her first guest post here, which talks about everything that went into planning her first race! The race will take place next Saturday, April 13, at 8am. Details below!
This year marks the second annual Run for Parkinson’s. Over a decade ago, my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease, an extremely debilitating neurodegenerative disorder. After going through the difficult journey that comes with such a scary diagnosis, my mom and I felt channeling our experience into something productive for the cause would be the best way to focus our energy.
The story really begins with a run Beth and I did a few years back on the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath. After the run, while we were engaging in all that post-run good stuff (photos and free bananas!) I struck up a conversation with the run’s organizer, John Brathwaite. John has a non-profit called DC Running Club which partners with organizations looking to host active events and helps them plan and execute their event from start to finish (pun intended).
His business model is to take half of the registration fee to cover the cost of the race and his personnel who handle all of the logistics. The other half is donated to the partner organization’s cause. It seemed like fate as I had been dying to plan a run but had absolutely no clue where to start.
We met a few months later to start planning the first Run for Parkinson’s, which was held last April on Hains Point. John took the reins organizing the event while I followed him around trying to absorb all of the details that go into the planning process. The first step was filing for the permit with National Park Service and learning how much police detail is required per number of runners anticipated at the event. We had to carefully choose the start and end times based on the distance of the run and requirements of NPS. Then we had to figure out all of the other nitty-gritty details – such as accessibility via public transportation and parking, placement of trash receptacles, and how many volunteers we’d need to set up on time and hand out bibs.
Marketing the event was up next. John has an account with Active.com, which is very helpful for registration. We had a really tiny budget for marketing, so we had to get creative! Many of last year’s participants were from our various networks, and I have to say it was a very powerful feeling to have that kind of support from so many people. Friends, family and colleagues were quick to sign up and get involved. So out went the mass email blasts, Facebook invites, blog articles, and any other free advertising opportunities we could get our hands on, such as a digital ad donated by Bisnow.com (thanks, guys!).
This is always the most stressful aspect for me because so much goes in to the organization of the event, to the point sometimes you forget you actually have to get people there! Our first event came and went with great success. We attracted close to 500 runners and raised almost $10,000!!
I anticipated the second time around would be easier after the know-how I had gained from the first event. However, it has proven to be full of new challenges on top of the same marketing dilemmas and logistical mishaps. Just when we thought we had things under control, we got a call from National Park Service last week saying that our location was double-booked with another run and we would have to change the location, even though our permit was filed almost a year ago.
Alas, having the backing of DC Running Club has saved us again. John scrambled to work his connections with the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath and we were confirmed two days later at the new location. Now the run is just a couple weeks away and we’re working hard to get everything ready for the big day. We hope that with some help from the race Gods all will go smoothly, and of course we would love to see you there! April 13th at 8am at the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath.
Register at RunForParkinsons.com.