May | 15

5 things you didn’t know about organizing a world-class road race

Picture this: you’re lining up in your corral at the race you’ve put 16 grueling and amazing weeks of training into. You know you’ve done your preparation and put in your hard work to achieve greatness on race day, but have you ever wondered what race organizers put into ensuring a seamless event? We caught up with Virginia Brophy-Achman, the Executive Director of Twin Cities in Motion, our partner behind the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and TC 10 Mile, to learn 5 things you may not know about the behind-the-scenes action of organizing a race.

1. It takes a village!

The people power to put on the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is in the thousands.  We have a staff of 24 full-time and part-time employees. On top of that, we have 380 volunteers who make up the TCM Association. They volunteer year-round to help us plan our weekend-of events. Then, there are 4,000 day-of-the-event volunteers who help us execute races for 30,000 participants on marathon weekend.

Planning is a 365 days a year activity. We take notes during the event, we debrief immediately following the event, we send out participant surveys post event, all of which helps us set goals for the next year. As an example of planning ahead, in November a month after the event, we have to place our shirt orders for the following year.  We are actually planning for our 40th anniversary in 2021 now!

2. You can help make porta potty wait times shorter!

Pre-race preparation is so individual, but most runners are hydrating early in the morning, nerves are setting in, and everyone gets to the start at about the same time. It’s so important to arrive early to allow time for lines.  Runners can help shorten the wait by forming lines in front of each unit.  It seems so simple, but one line is the least efficient way to queue them.

3. Being prepared helps everyone on race day

A:  Be prepared. Runners who read the pre-race information and plan their transportation and arrival time to allow for unforeseen glitches, have their gear-check bag ready to turn in, and get into the starting corrals on time help us get the races started on time. Thanks for that, runners! We have very limited time at the start of the marathon and 10-mile; our marathon starts at 8 a.m. and we have to be cleaned up by 9 a.m.

4. Runners might not always notice the creative problem solving behind the race

As a race organizer, snafus are seen as fun! They are a challenge to be solved in the moment.  In my first year at TCM, we did not have enough trash containers, so we lined the entire secure finish chute with the boxes from the finisher shirts and other products, and made many trips to the dumpster. Thankfully it didn’t rain that day!

5. Race organizers have your safety and your experience in mind when they plan a race

We plan yearlong, dialing in on the little things, implementing best practices and finding ways to surprise and delight runners, so that when a runner toes the start line, with only their goals in front of them, they can cross that finish line feeling cared-for and safe, and not have to navigate issues at the start or on the course. Seasoned volunteers play a big part in the race experience, as well as having strong community support. That energy that comes from smiling volunteers and spectators makes all the difference when a runner is having a tough day.
Brooks is proud to be the footwear and apparel sponsor of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and TC 10 Mile. To register and learn more, visit Twin Cities in Motion.

About Derek
I’m a runner, a writer, and a shoe lover who enjoys morning coffee, travel, singing in the car, and getting legitimately lost on trail runs. Three things I can’t live without: bubble tea, Fridays, and my Brooks PureFlow’s.

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