Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Season Recap: Locations

Scouting race locations is an exciting behind-the-scenes job.  Each location presents its own unique benefits and challenges.  Besides the road conditions, turns, hills and scenery of the course itself, traffic flow, parking availability, safe crowd management and emergency services access are important race planning details.

Sandy Hook Run for the Families
An unprecedented location challenge in 2013, and arguably one of the most defining events of the year, was the Sandy Hook Run for the Families and its overwhelming capacity demand.  Registration for the race was skyrocketing and we quickly outgrew our first Danbury venue at Western CT University, then our second downtown Danbury venue.  Beyond course capacity itself, the limitations on every other aspect of race management required we move the race to downtown Hartford, where course and necessary runner services had proven to accommodate this demand.  Behind the scenes, we had vetted 3 different locations – meaning 3 different course designs, 3 different permitting processes and 3 different race plans – all in 60 days.  The incredibly hard work of so many people proved well worth all the location changes – the Sandy Hook Run for the Families was the largest inaugural 5K event in the world!

A Race to End Violence

Like everyone in the running community and across the US, we were thoroughly shaken by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon in April.  Beyond our personal sadness and the emotional effects of Boston, professionally we knew that day would forever change race planning and location assessment.

As a starting place, we wanted to offer a community run location for runners from Boston to come together.  We invited them to the following week’s Enough! A Race to End Violence as a small show of support. Many of them came to run with us through the streets of New Britain surrounding Central CT State University. It was a powerful and emotional day full of tears and resilience.  In the following weeks and months, we reviewed every detail in our security plans and assessed locations with a different perspective than ever before.  Many of you saw this along the course and at start and finish locations at our events this year.

Surftown Half Marathon & 5K
Outside of course safety and security, the innate limitations of great locations can create some logistic nightmares.  The increased participation and draw to the Surftown Half Marathon & 5K this past September culminated in some less-than-ideal traffic issues.  One of Surftown’s biggest draws is its gorgeous location – the course runs along Misquamicut State Beach and through the quaint streets in Westerly, RI. However, there are only two ways in and out of the area which created a long backup as our runners began arriving to the race site. We’ve already made new plans to handle this aspect of the race for 2014.  We love all the feedback we get from you and use it in all our planning to make races the best experience we can for our runners.

Any location/course feedback is welcome in the comments below!

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