Have you ever stopped and thought about what it takes to put on a Race Series? The following is a behind the scenes look at what Chris Duburg, Gary Locken and a group of CCORC volunteers went through and go through weekly to provide local cyclist the â€œHome Grown Cyclocross Seriesâ€.
The Proposed goals Chris & Gary wanted to achieve:
1. Provide local cyclist a race series they could enjoy and count on.
2.Â Make it as affordable as possible for the racers.
3. Make it look and feel like a first class event.
4. Keep it simple and organized so that it was not a burdenÂ on the club and the volunteers.
5. And if everything went good, provide the club with some revenue for future trail projects, events and other endeavors.
1. Pre-planning: After establishing the concept of keep it simple and low cost, there was an on-slot of comments wanting to add cost and effort, everything from cash payouts, adding vendors and soliciting sponsors all of which had to be dealt with. The though part is, youâ€™ll never be able to accommodate or satisfy everybody and yet someone has to make the call knowing it may alienate some.
2. Establishing the race schedule: Searching out information on other cycling events around the state soÂ as to minimize conflict with said events.
3. Obtaining the event permit: Identifying possible location to hold the event within Woodward Park. Preparing the paper work and submitting itÂ to the City Parks. A multitude of phone calls and email to City Park officials to get them to review and approve the permit application.
4. Revision to the permit application: Just weeks before the first scheduled race Chris was finally able to get the City Parks to respond to his initialÂ request (almost 2 months after he had submitted the original info). When they did he was informed that they felt there would be a conflict on the first race day with another event in the park and that they did not want us to conduct the races in the area he had proposed.
5. Revisions to theÂ schedule: After the late response from the City Chris scrambled to determine if the series would be forced to only run the remainingÂ four races or if the schedule could be adjusted to continue to provide aÂ five race series. In order to achieve the later he needed to have the support of the volunteers and hope that their calendars were clearÂ enough to provide the required support.
6. Getting the word out: In order to have a successful event you need participants,Â and even though word of mouth generatesÂ some interest its not enough to assure a good turnout. Chris designed and created race flyers and distributed them to all the locations potential cyclocross racers would frequent. In addition he made sure that the race schedule made it on the websites and schedules of related cyclocross promoters and associations.
7. Keeping theÂ participants informed: When youâ€™re running a multi race series over a period of three months and each day of racing contains multiple races itâ€™s critical that participants and potential participants have theÂ ability to keep themselves informed. Dates, race categories, race times, registration requirements, licenses and fees are all critical pieces of information that the participants need. However the most important piece of info racers want are the race results, all of this was provided and updated by Gary via theÂ race website that he created and maintains.
8. Event Insurance: In order to hold a public event on public property you must haveÂ insurance. CCORC is a small social club and therefore we are not financially able to have our own insurance policy. Therefore Chris had to seek out organizations that would provide us with the required insurance in order to obtain the City Parks approval and permitting of the event.
9. Race Officiating: In order to obtain the necessary insurance we must affiliate our event with a nationally recognizedÂ cycling organization. In order to achieve this we must have a certified official from the organization present at every race, the cost of having this individual in attendance is paid for by theÂ club hosting the event.Â Chris’s wife Stephanie was kind enough to work with Chris and become certified as a race official, this saved the club substantial monies and also provided a great deal of flexibility with the event schedule.
10. Race course location: In past years the cyclocross races were held in the Northwest portion of the park. However with the recently completed “MountainÂ Bike Skills Park” (with its fenced in area), the highly popularÂ Disc Golf Course (whichÂ has been in existent for decades), along with other concerns and needs it was determined that this areaÂ was no longer conducive to a decent size cyclocross course. Prior to Chris submitting his event application to the City Parks, he wentÂ over the entire park looking for an ideal location to hold the races. He settle on the Northeast area of the park and felt that thisÂ locations natural terrain would facilitate a challenging race course and that the other amenities (parking & restrooms) wouldÂ help support the event. However, the City Parks did not agree with Chris and therefore he found himselfÂ starting the entire process again.
11. Participant and Spectator considerations: Some of the key things Chris had to consider when selecting a location for the racesÂ were to make it easy for everyone to find the location of the event. He needed the City Parks to approve a location that was adjacent to the main road that way everyone could easily find it even if they were not familiar with the park. In addition he wanted a location that had plenty of parking and restroom facilities nearby. While Chris was researching informationÂ during his event preparation he came across a formula for determining how many spectators to anticipate at an event. I believe it was something like 2.5:1 therefore if we have 75Â participants we should anticipate approx. 190 spectators. Chris wanted to accommodate the spectators and make the event as spectator friendly as he could. Therefore he laid the race course out so that a large portion of it could be viewed in a relatively small area and only a short distance from the start/finish area.
12.Â Awards and Event T-shirts: Awards and event t-shirts are the two largest cost items associated with this type of event. In an effort to keep to his promise of keeping costs down and to provide a low race entryÂ fee ChrisÂ looked for away of providing anÂ award to the top 3 finishers in each race category.Â The problem was that he has no way of knowing exactly how many different categories of racers will actually participate each week. This makes it difficult and costly to have enough awards available; he came up with an idea that provided the flexibility he needed. Chris designed and ordered the beer glasses which provided a unique and special award. Keeping with his low entry fee commitment heÂ had to make the tough decision not to provide event t-shirts. In order to provide event t-shirts youÂ must commit to a quantity weeks in advance, and if you are not requiring pre-registration it is impossible to have an accurate count for ordering. There is a huge risk of ordering to few and not having enough to cover everyone that enters or ordering to many and the extra cost eats up the proceeds of the event.
13. Volunteer coordination: Chris made every effort to keep the race series simple in order to minimize the number of volunteers it would take toÂ actually facilitate each day of racing. In order toÂ accomplishÂ all of the required task involved with hosting the race each day Chris knew it would take volunteers performing the following duties: Race Course Set-Up (4Â volunteers), Registration (3 volunteers), Timing and Scoring (2 volunteers), Announcing (1 volunteer), Course Marshall’s (3 volunteers), Race Official (1 volunteer) and the event coordinator himself. With a small amount of overlap between some of the responsibilities it takes aÂ minimumÂ of 11 volunteers to pull offÂ each day of racing.
14. TheÂ Race Course: OnceÂ Chris had the approval of the City Parks and the general location of the race approved he spent several days establishing the race course, making sure it complied with the prescribed cyclocross course specifications. Shortly after publicizing the location of the proposed courseÂ he was notified by a participant that they had noticed several areas in and around the course that contained goat heads. Chris then spent the whole week prior to the first race raking and removing the weed from the entire race course. TheÂ Saturday before the first race Chris spent the entire day at the park going over every foot of the course with the set-up volunteers determiningÂ exactly how the entire course neededÂ toÂ be marked and or flagged. In addition Chris constructed the barriers that are a key element in cyclocross racing. Another though decision, a lot of racers would prefer to see the course changed for each race. However, to maintain the â€œkeep it simpleâ€ philosophy the course needs to remain the same, changing it would require substantial hours from several volunteersâ€™ days before each race.
15. Before each race: Each week between the races there are several things that need to be done such as posting race results, updating the website (thanks to Gary on both of these first two items),Â obtaining additional supplies and following up with all of the volunteers to make sureÂ all of the staff positions are covered for the upcoming race.
16. Capturing the moment and making it special: Thanks to Stephanie and others each day of racing has been photographed. The photos have captured the racers doing what they love to do, the spectators cheering for their friends and loved ones, and the volunteers making everything happen. The special part, once again thanks to Gary, is that the photos are shared via the website. Which by the way has anyone ever seen a cooler more awesome website? homegrowncross.com
This entire seriesÂ has beenÂ made possible by Chris & Stephanie and family, Gary & Vikki, Mike, Daniel & Marilyn and family, John, Marvin, Rick andÂ Susan.
Thank you to all for your commitment and continued support.
MarkÂ Â Â