Once you’ve got your marathon planned, the next step is getting runners registered in a straightforward and stress-free manner. You want to collect some relevant information, and they want a simple process that doesn’t induce frustration. The good news is that with a well-thought-out registration procedure, everyone can get exactly what they want. Here are some things to consider when setting up your registration process.
For early registration, online is best.
The majority of runners will want to register with an online form. This saves them the hassle of mailing in a form and wondering if everything got through OK. Instead, a confirmation message or email lets them know that they’re in. Work with a knowledgeable and experienced web developer to create a simple but complete online registration form. If you have the resources to do so, make it mobile friendly. Be sure to link to your registration via social media channels so that runners can just click over and sign up. To give your participants a few early payment options, set up an account with PayPal.
For race day registration, have paperwork or data entry stations ready.
Even though some runners may register on the day of a marathon, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re there to run, not to fill out loads of paperwork. Keep paper forms simple and to the point, or work with a local IT business to set up data entry stations so runners can quickly enter information on computers or tablets. For race day registration fees, set up a tablet or other mobile device with a Square credit card reader so runners can pay with plastic.
Develop a logical set-up for your registration area.
You’ll have runners who registered early and who will just need to check in and pick up a bib, and you’ll have runners who need to register that day. Create two separate and easily identifiable queues for these two groups, and have several volunteers whose sole job is to answer on-the-spot registration questions; you may even want to put up a separate information table. Also, plan ahead to ensure that you have enough volunteers for staffing your registration area. Whatever your runners’ registration needs are on the day of the race, they will want to get through the process quickly and get on the course.
Don’t forget the bib details.
Numbered bibs are an important part of any race for identification and results. Runners take them seriously, and so should you! Make sure you have enough on hand for the race (and well as lots of safety pins), and remember to account for race day registrants when you order them. Establishing a protocol for handing them out is also important so that volunteers assign them properly. You’ll also want to instruct runners to wear their bibs in the front and on top of any outer layers so that times can be accurately recorded.
Your marathon is a big event in the lives of your runners, and taking the extra time to make sure things run smoothly and efficiently will not only reflect well on you and your planning team, but will help your event grow in the coming years. A good registration process, for both early birds and latecomers, is an important part of a good marathon. Fortunately, with some close attention to detail and thinking ahead, marathon registration can be simple, smooth, and easy for eve