How to Make Your Running Race a Running Event

by Drue Townsend

In the past 25 years, running has grown from a niche sport into a billion dollar industry with millions of followers and participants. In 2015, more than 16 million runners finished in more than 30,000 events held across the country. While the 5K remains the most popular running event, the industry has seen a shift to more non-traditional running events that include obstacles, tandem running and even props. As these events evolve from strict athletic competitions into social recreation, there will be more opportunities for innovative and strategic signage. From before the gun sounds to hours after crossing the finish line, these are the signs that make a running event more than just an intense day of exercise.

Before the Race


Your standard promotional materials, including billboards, banners and fliers, will get the word out just fine, but there are other ways to create a buzz for an upcoming race. Prominent running brand, ASICS®, used a video board to promote its products, the New York Marathon and Olympic marathon runner, Ryan Hall. The digital board was installed in a subway station, where a video of Hall running at his typical marathon pace made it appear as if Hall himself was speeding through the station. As people walked by the video board, they were encouraged to “race” Hall. They, of course, failed to keep up with Hall, but the digital display was a great success for ASICS and the New York Marathon, racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. 

During the Race 

For years, race spectators and supporters would stake out a spot on the course, cheer maniacally for the few seconds that their favorite runner passed and then hope for the best. But as technology has improved, spectators are now able to keep up with the progress of runners in real-time. Event apps, electronic timing devices and large LED screens have enabled these enthusiastic supporters to track runners as they progress through the course, displaying times, pace and how each runner stacks up against the competition. For more serious competitions, these displays are guides for runners who need to know if they should to adjust their strategy. 

For smaller-scale events and the increasingly popular obstacle races, the race courses are filled with quirky changes of direction and complicated maps. Unless the point of your race is to confuse the participants (see: The Barkley Marathons), installing effective wayfinding signs can keep runners on track and safe. Be sure to make these signs big and bold with clear messaging. When a runner is in the midst of an intense event, they will appreciate an easy-to-read sign that doesn’t cause confusion. 

After the Race 

One of the most popular developments in running events is the post-race party, where organizers encourage everyone to make a day of it. This is what takes an ordinary race and turns it into a memorable event. Digital signs can be used to show live video of the finish line, race highlights and interviews with participants. The running community is extremely supportive, and broadcasting these exciting moments at the post-race party can make for an exciting and emotional environment. 

After months of preparation and difficult training, participants look forward to not only the race itself, but also the pageantry that make it a special event. If you want to make your race an event that runners and fans look forward to every year, call FASTSIGNS for the event signage you need!

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