Would a 5K be a good fundraiser?

Are you looking to start a road race, fun run/walk, or other fitness event? The challenges of hosting such an event can be great, but the rewards to a healthier community and hopeful financial benefit to your organization is usually the catalyst to the start of many great events. The following is some information that might make you decide to try a chicken dinner or a bake sale instead of hosting an event, but those who are organized and persistent can succeed. There were only about 40 mid-Michigan road races a dozen years ago, and now there are more than 200. With the race and physical activity scene forever changing the event types and popularity are fluid but the backbone to all great events stays the same. For further information on Playmakers and your event please review the information below and contact the Playmakers Event Team if you have any questions. 

Help for Beginner Race Directors

This is great information for the beginners and experienced race directors.

New race directors clinic power point  |  Race director job duties

Help for Road Race Directors

Playmakers and Your Event

  • Thank you for hosting a race in the Greater Lansing region. Playmakers is excited to be apart of your event and hopes a collaborative effort can ensure our involvement and your event “run” smoothly! Please review the information below, even if Playmakers has been routinely involved in your event, and help us achieve success by following our new event protocol.

  • Online Event Calendar:

    We invite every race, or similar event, to post your event information on the Playmakers website.

    • Recommend to post event information at least one month prior to event.

    • Create user account when registering to all editing of event information if needed

      • Recommended Information to post on the Playmakers Event Calendar

        • Race name, date, time, & start/finish location

        • Race distance”s” & qualifications (i.e. - Kids race must be under 12 years old)

        • Costs and all price increase of all events at your race

          • Link to online registration/race website

          • Uploaded PDF if paper registrations are accepted

        • Packet pickup date, times, and locations

        • Awards and corresponding age brackets

        • Race course route - has ability to link to the Playmakers calendar

        • Miscellaneous information specific to your event (i.e. - Wave start by pace)

    Playmakers “Paper Registration Form” Display/Collection:

    Playmakers can be a display spot and collection location for your event’s paper registration form.

    • Playmakers as a “Registration Form” display location

      • Event must provide Playmakers with printed registration forms to distribute prior to forms being distributed in other locations

        • Please drop paper registration forms off for Michelle Phillipich to display.

          • Events should not post their forms on the Playmakers display rack unless prior approval by Playmakers staff has been given.

    • Playmakers as a “Registration Form” collection location

      • Contact Michelle to arrange paper registrations at Playmakers prior to your registration form being published or distributed

      • Event should be listed on the Playmakers website prior to registration forms distribution

        • Event must have a corresponding online registration system in place and linked off the Playmakers Event Calendar - Goal is to have 100% registrations online

      • Please consider listing Playmakers as a race sponsor

      • It is encourage that events routinely pick-up completed registration forms at Playmakers.

    Race Bibs:

    Playmakers has a small supply of numbers that are distributed to races on a first come first serve basis.

    • Contact Andy Marsh approximately one month prior to your event to reserve bibs

    • Event must be posted on the Playmakers Online Event Calendar

    • Please consider listing Playmakers as a race sponsor

    • Races timed by Chuck Block (Michigan Running Foundation) will have bibs provided thru MRF.

    Playmakers Event Truck and Equipment:

    Playmakers maintains an active role in local races, fun runs/walks, and health/fitness related events by attending many in our Event Truck and supporting others through use of event equipment. Unfortunately we are not able to attend all of the great events in the Greater Lansing Area. If you have questions about our involvement in your event in 2014 please contact Jeff or Andy with your specific information and questions.

    • Please provide - race name, race date, contact information

    Packet Pickup (PPU) Requirements:

    Playmakers has a great location for your event to host your packet pickup.

    • Contact Andy to arrange/confirm Packet Pickup at least one month prior to event

    • Playmakers online event calendar should display packet pickup day, date, and time clearly at least one month prior to event date.

    • Please consider listing Playmakers as a race sponsor

    • Events must arrive at Playmakers at least 30 minutes before the start of their PPU

      • Events must be ready to start distributing packets 15 minutes before the start of their PPU

    • To help our customers and your race participants all PPU must maintain standard day/time set by Playmakers and listed below

    • Smaller races should consider 3 to 4 hour blocks with larger races considering longer time periods.

    • Monday - Friday

      • 10am - 2pm; 10am - 5pm; 10am - 8pm   

      • 12 - 5pm; 12 - 8pm; 2 - 8pm; 5 - 8pm

    • Saturday

      • 10am - 2pm; 10am - 6pm; 12 - 6pm; 2 - 6pm

    • Sunday

      • 12 - 5pm

    Race Medals & Awards

    Playmakers occasionally serves as a medal/award distribution point for races. We recommend all races/events look at current best practices and try to distribute awards quickly and accurately at their event. Most participants are looking to leave events quickly so having a distribution plan prior to the start of the event is wise. Most participants skip the award ceremonies leaving many of the awards left to be distributed. If you would like Playmakers to serve as your Race Medals & Awards distribution point:

    • Contact Andy Marsh prior to your event to set up award distribution plan including:

      • Accurate results - awards dropoff plan - clear distribution plan - awards pickup plan

    • Event must be posted on the Playmakers Online Event Calendar

    • Please consider listing Playmakers as a race sponsor

    Playmakers Event Contacts

    Andy Marsh - - Online calendar, packet pickup, race bibs, awards, schedule

    Michelle Phillipich - - Paper registration forms, in store registration, schedule

    Jeff Crowe - - Event equipment and event truck

Big 10 Keys to a Successful Run

Download the Big 10 Reference Card

Playmakers Big 10

Quick Reference

1. Website, Online Registration, Entry Form
Does my online media look appropriate and portray race information?
Does my form effectively convey all necessary information?
Am I prepared to distribute my information in a timely fashion?
Do I have a plan to utilize social media?

2. Volunteers
Do I have enough volunteers?
Do my volunteers have sufficient direction?
Am I taking care of my volunteers?

3. T-Shirts
Is my give-away appealing to my target audience?
Do I have enough?

4. Registration
Have I selected an appropriate location?
Have I selected an appropriate layout?
Have I properly trained my volunteers?
Do I have all necessary supplies?

5. Course
Is my course enjoyable?
Is my course safe?
Is my course accurate?
Do I have lead vehicles that are very familiar with the course?

6. Start/Finish
Does my start/finish look professional?
Is my start/finish area large enough?
Do I have enough workers for my start/finish area?
Do I have some method of recognizing participants?
Am I prepared to process results?
Will my last finisher be treated as well as the first finisher?

7. Kid's Run
Do I have someone focusing on the kid's run?
Is the children's course clearly laid out?
Have I effectively communicated details of the kids run to parents and volunteers?

8. Refreshments
Are my refreshments appealing to my participants?
Do I have enough food/drink?
Are the refreshments easily accessible to all of my participants?

9. Awards
Have I effectively planned the awards ceremony?
Will I make my participants feel special?
Do I have appropriate awards that will appeal to my target audience?

10. Intangibles
What will make my race stand out from all of the other good races?

Most Common Race Director Problems

  1. Race director or race committee is spread too thin.  Delegate.  Be available to react to unforeseen events on race day. 
  2. Insufficient lead/planning time allotted.  Good runs take a great deal of time to plan.  Proactivity can save you many headaches.
  3. Inaccurate course/splits.  See #2
  4. Course not marked well; runners get lost on course.  Again, see #2.  A map for runners and volunteers can also help.
  5. Not enough entries, too many T-shirts, or vice versa.  A significant price increase for later registrations can help to reduce this.  In addition, have a plan for how you will deal with any shortages.
  6. Missing many volunteers on race day. Appoint a volunteer coordinator, and have a list of specific duties.  Plug specific people into specific jobs.  Confirm volunteers 2-3 days before event.
  7. Race day registration back up.  Not enough or inexperienced volunteers, or poorly laid out registration.
  8. Not enough water stations or volunteers who don’t know how to distribute water to runners.
  9. Not prepared or have inadequate volunteer help at the finish line.  A backup at the finish can tarnish an otherwise great event.
  10. Late finishers and walkers feel they are treated as second class citizens.  Don’t break the finish down too soon, and be sure to have sufficient refreshments for later finishers.
  11. Unorganized kid’s event.  If you are going to do a kid’s run, you need to give it the same type planning as you would the adult’s event.
  12. Unprepared for awards ceremony; slow results.  Runners like to see their results quickly.  In addition, planning needs to go into an effective awards ceremony.
  13. Essentials are overlooked.  (Accurate course, great T-shirt, well-organized registration/packet pickup, well-organized finish, great refreshments.)  Take care of the essentials first.

Race Wisdom

Pre Race

Goals and Commitment

Be clear on your objectives for putting on the event.  Raising money for a charity, exposure for sponsors, the desire to provide a service to the running and walking community, etc.  You need to understand the commitment demanded to make your event successful, and decide if you and your team are ready to make the necessary sacrifices.  If you are not committed enough to make the event outstanding, then it will benefit no one.


The key to any event is to make it beneficial for everyone involved.  This includes participants, volunteers, sponsors, charities, and especially race committees.  Ask yourself, “Why will someone come to my event when there are so many to choose from?” Decide to whom you intend to appeal and how best to reach and satisfy those individuals.


Coordinating Team

It is crucial to organize a team of coordinators and divide responsibilities.  Make sure your coordinators are committed or you will end up doing everything yourself.  Delegate responsibilities depending on individual strengths.  Examples of areas to cover are sponsorship, race applications, T-shirts, course set up, volunteers, food, finish line, awards, marketing, entertainment, etc.


Practical Experience

Talk with other race directors to get idea of what to expect.  Make sure you are going into this with your eyes open.



Fixed Costs

·         Race Applications, type setting and printing

·         Marketing

·         Mailing, labels and postage

·         Awards and prizes

·         Tents and tables

·         T-shirts, artwork and design

·         Police and ambulance

·         Barricades and cones

·         Music

·         Insurance

·         Banners


Variable Costs

·         Bathrooms (1 per 75-100 participants)

·         T-shirts, blanks and printing

·         Computerized results

·         Mailing entries and results

·         Race numbers and pins


When soliciting sponsors, always ask yourself what you can provide for the sponsor.  There are not many sponsors who are just looking for a tax write-off.  The more you can do for a sponsor, the more you will be able to receive in return.  Without sponsorship, many races would not exist for very few could break even on entry fees alone.  The best thing you can do for a sponsor is to give them great exposure and identification with a consistently great event.  Make sure you are clear with your sponsors on what you will do for them and what they can expect in return.  Set up a way of recognizing sponsors depending on the level of their contribution. 


Don’t put off sponsorship until shortly before the event. Furthermore, don’t neglect the importance of a media sponsor.  They can help to publicize your event.  In addition, they can make your event more appealing to other sponsors.



It’s all, as they say, in the location.

·         Plenty of convenient parking

·         Easy access

·         Plenty of room for start, finish, registration, and refreshments

·         Clean, appealing area



Design a course that runners will enjoy.  Consider scenery, traffic, and turns.  Consider, also, the accessibility of you course to your volunteers.  It can be helpful to travel to other events and observe their courses.



Decide whom you are trying to target.  The shorter the distance, the more people that can participate.  Several things to consider:

  • 5K’s bring out the greatest numbers.  In addition, you are most likely to get the casual runners and families.
  • There are a great many road 5K’s now.  A simple way to make your event unique is to offer a different distance or different surface.
  • The downside to offering a longer distance is that it places a greater demand on your course and aid stations.



Always consider early registration deadlines.  This will allow you to better plan and project numbers, t-shirts, bathrooms, etc.  A recent option gaining in popularity is that of online registration.


Entry Fees

Look at what other events are charging and giving in return.  The price you charge should reflect the value received by your participants.  The more value you give, the greater you can expect your future return to be.  The price breaks for early registration should be substantial enough to highly encourage early registrants, but not so high as to discourage late registration.



Decide what you can afford to spend and how best to promote given your budget.  Be creative and know your target market.  It is very helpful to have your application or other promotional material out as soon as possible.  Take these materials to as many events and locations as possible.  It is very helpful to have an experienced marketing person that knows the ropes on your race committee.



Most runners have more than enough t-shirts, so they probably do not need another mediocre T-shirt.  Be creative and put a lot of effort into doing a great T-shirt.  This can be a big part of bringing participants and sponsors back to your event.  A great T-shirt can be a great advertisement for your event.  You need to find a balance on design in which you recognize sponsors, but do it in a tasteful manner and not one that looks like another billboard.



Decide how much you can spend and try to be creative.  You may be able to get a sponsor to donate some awards.  Weigh out carefully how important awards are to your event and commit your budget accordingly.


Race Day

Pre Race

Meet with your race committee 2-3 hours prior to the race or the evening before.  Have maps and lists of assignments for volunteers.  Be specific about where they are to go, and what their duties will be.


Set Up: Put up tents, tables, any banners, and refreshment areas.  Prepare parking areas and bathrooms the day before, if possible.  (Make sure to have plenty of toilet paper.)


Mark the course: Mark all turns and set up mile markers.  This should be done before runners even begin to arrive.  Never assume runners will know where to turn.


Parking:  Have a key group that has met prior to race day to make sure that parking goes smoothly, or you can have major problems.


Registration and packet pick-up: Find key people that are organized and able to handle a crowd.  Experienced people can be a big help.  Registration has the potential to be a major problem if not well planned out.


Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteers are one of the keys to a great event.  Make sure to take care of them.  One person should be stationed to direct and answer any volunteer questions.  Make sure that all volunteers know who this person is and where they will be.



Set up food so that it is contained so that people don’t hoard food, yet make sure that the area does not jam up.  Keep the food fresh and present it well.  Make sure to save some food for those at the back of the pack, or you will be neglecting some deserving people.  When considering food selection and set up remember to consider ease of consumption and clean up, as well taste appeal.



Plan about 1 bathroom for every 100 participants.  Make sure to have plenty of toilet paper.



Someone should be present to take pictures. They can be very helpful in promoting subsequent events.  Give photographers ideas of where they might get the best pictures.



Make sure to have plenty of water and cups on the course and at the finish.  Set this up before the race.  It can ruin a race and create a major health risk if there is not enough water available.  Make sure water station volunteers know how to hand water to faster runners.  Put trashcans down course from the water station to make clean up easier.


Split Timers

Have a person in charge of getting timers to mile stations once the race has started.  Make sure timers are enthusiastic and loud when they yell out times.



Test music and sound system prior to the race.  A good sound system and music can really enhance an event.  In addition, it makes it easier to provide announcements to your participants.


Lead Vehicle

Make sure the lead driver is positive of the course.  A wrong turn has damaged many a race.


Race Start

Make sure that you have communicated with coordinators and everything is set to go.  It is always advisable to have someone drive the course just beforehand to make sure that everything and everyone is ready.  Precede the start with regular announcements leading up to start time: 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes until the start.  Mention water and aid stations, weather and traffic precautions, finish procedures, etc.  Confirm that timers and lead vehicle are ready, and then proceed with the start.  If there is a walk event, decide whether to start simultaneously or a few minutes later.

Banners, Signs, and Clock

It is nice to have a large clock at the finish, as well as nice looking banners at the start and finish.  It is helpful, too, to have signs labeling your mile splits.  These things help to make the event look professional, as well as aid runners in finding the different areas of your course.


Traffic Control

Have a map of your traffic control assignments and make sure that all of your volunteers understand their responsibilities.  Always err on the side of extra volunteers for traffic control. Try to anticipate any area where cars and runners could meet.  It is a good idea to use vest and/or flags.  Make sure that everyone has a way out to their post and a way to get back.


Maps and Volunteer Lists

It is always helpful to have course maps, parking maps, finish line layouts and a list of volunteers and their positions.


Finish Line

This is probably the easiest place to really ruin a race.  It is critical to map out your finish line plan carefully and to have some experienced people working at the finish.  You may want to hire a professional finish line company.  If you do hire someone, make sure to find out whether he or she will staff the finish, or whether you will need to.  Always make sure to use plenty of backups such as tic sheets or video.  Your finish line set up will depend on how many participants you have as well as the event distance.

Resources to Market Your Race

Contacts to Market Your Event

Download Press Release List

Lansing State Journal
Michigan Runner
Great Lakes Sports Publications, Inc.
3588 Plymouth Road #245
Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2003
Voice: (734) 507-0241
Fax: (734) 434-4765
Jennie McCafferty (
Michigan Sports & Fitness
The Source - Michigan's Premier Sports Calendar of Events
send an e-mail to, info may also
be faxed or mailed to:
Michigan Sports & Fitness
1220 Russell Road
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103
(734) 332-3786
(734) 332-3788 fax
(listings and updates are accepted on-line throughout the year.)
(listings and updates are accepted on-line throughout the year.)
Healthy & Fit Magazine
(517) 256-1077
Tim Kissman
Detroit Free Press & Detroit News
Free Press Weekly (Tuesday's) "Body and Mind Section" / Get Up and Go Listings
Get Up and Go, Free Press Sports, 600 W. Fort, Detroit, MI 48226 or fax (313) 222-5983
News Weekly (Wednesday's) "Sport and Fitness Section" / Calendar Listings

Timing Services

Michigan Running Foundation: D-tag and pull-tag
Chuck Block
Lansing, MI
(517) 702-0226

Gault Race Management: D-tag and chip
Anne and John Gault
Flushing, MI
(810) 659-6493 (or fax at 659-2341)

Mac's Sports Timing: D-tag and chip
Brian and Lynn McDaniel
Schoolcraft, MI
(269) 584-1219 cell
(269) 679-5450 home

Race Services:  D-tag and chip
Tony and Debbie Newton
8100 Boulder Drive
Davison, MI 48423
(810) 658-8100 

Classic Race Management
: D-tag and chip 
Joe O'Brien 
Grand Rapids, MI 
(616) 458-7888 

Everal Race Management: D-tag and chip 
Greg and Jenni Everal 
P.O. Box 623 
Taylor, MI 48180 
(734) 507-1789

Great Lakes Champion Chip: D-tag and chip 
Bill Fries 
Portage, MI 
(269) 806-7000

Michiana Timing: CHIP/Manual/FinishLynx 
a division of LLC 
Don and Brittany Passenger, Lindsey and Rob Wieck 
2135 Shenandoah NW 
Grand Rapids, MI 
(616) 821-3156 or (616) 706-4730

Race Shirts

Screen Printers

Meridian Screen Printing And Design
Sally Taylor
3362 Hulett Road
Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 351-2525 /(517) 351-2552 fax
Slick Shirts
Screen Printing & Embroidery
805 Vine Street
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 371-3600 /(517) 371-1581 fax
Underground Printing
Rishie Narayan
260 Metty Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI
(734) 665-2692