Friday, January 10, 2014

I Do... Now, wait, is it too late to change my mind??

The Wedding Day 5k
by Frank Durso, Run The Day Race Management

As a professional race timer, I can honestly say that I have seen it all when it comes to running. I have seen the fads come and go and some are here to stay for the foreseeable future: Zombie Runs, Tough Mudders, Ugly Mudders, Spartan Races, Trojan Races, Ugly Trojan Races, Color Runs, Pickle Runs (shameless plug), etc etc so forth and so on. Whew. As a runner myself, I get tired of thinking of all of the ways I can try to disguise and rename what is nothing more than the simple act of trying to get from point A to point, without a vehicle, with the company of a couple of thousand of your closest friends, who are all trying to get there faster than you are.

New for 2013: The Wedding Run. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl date. Boy and girl get engaged. Boy and girl plan a big wedding. Boy and girl also happen to be runners and decide that it would be a real hoot to have a "Wedding 5k." I cant think of a better idea than asking your bridal party, close friends and relatives to lace up the 'ole running shoes and trot a couple of miles in celebration of the pending nuptials. It's all fun in games until Uncle Morty keels over from a massive coronary at mile 1. The last time Uncle Morty ran was for the last bread roll at the Trump Plaza buffet when he went to AC with your Aunt Linda back in the '87. While the unfortunate tale of the late Uncle Morty might be a *bit* of an exaggeration, it's a great intro for the topic of today's blog: How Do I make my Wedding Day 5k a Great Success!?

Let's start with the basics. For any race to be successful, there has to be runners. Sounds simple right? So, ask yourself the simple question: "How many family and friends do I know who would be interested in participating?"

Second question: Where? It's easier for me to tell you where NOT to have a race as it is for me to tell you where TO have the race. DON'T have the race on any open roads. God forbid your cousin Louie - who drove three hours from Coxsacky New York - gets nailed by a distracted texting 16 year old girl driving Dad's '91 Buick LeSabre.

No one wants that . especially your parents, who inevitably will harange you with "I told you this whole 5k thing was a bad idea. You and this jogging. All the time with the running. Tell her Sol. I told your fathah that this jogging idea was trouble. And now this. Your poor cousin Louie. He was just about to marry that nice Russian girl he met over the intranet or whatever it is you kids are using these days. With the FaceSpace and the MyBook... When are you two going to start trying for a baby?" **

Pick a place, like a park, that has a walking/ running path that's closed to traffic. State Park permits might run a couple of bucks, but if it avoids a funeral or a trip to the ER, consider it a small price to pay. Locally, here in Delaware County, Ridley Creek State Park is a fantastic venue to host a small 5k. In addition to a beautiful race course, there are several pavilions that are available to rent - it's perfect for the post race BBQ. Just be aware that no matter where you decide to host the event, the odds are good that you'll need some help. Even the simplest courses should have some folks out on the course stationed at the tricky spots, making sure that the runners are heading in the right direction, and depending on the weather, throwing a small "self-serve" water station at the halfway point may not be a bad idea. Recruit some of your non-running relatives to help provide some race day support. Since they aren't runners, and probably won't run in the race, they'll be happy to be able to take part in the event and enjoy the festivities.

How serious are we trying to make this cute little event? Are we going the "no-frills" route aka timing the race with a stop watch and a clipboard, or going with a professional timer? There are pro's and con's to both options. "No-Frills" certainly keeps the costs to a minimum. But a professional timer brings the "big-race" atmosphere to the event. It's a unique opportunity for the non-runners to get a sense of what happens at a race, and it will "wow" the experienced runners. Think about some non-traditional timing formats, like a "prediction" style event. In a prediction, the runners guess their anticipated finishing time before the event, and the runners who finish the closest to their predicted times receive awards. Prediction events give everyone - regardless of ability- the opportunity to win a prize. And it's a great way to encourage the non runners to participate by giving them the option of running or walking at their own pace.

And remember, this event should FUN. Try to throw some "wedding day" themed activities into the event. Encourage all your runners to run in the most outlandish wedding attire they can find. For the ladies, this means old prom dresses, or maybe even an old bridesmaid gown left over from another wedding, that's been sitting in the closet collecting dust. For the fellas, a trip to a thrift shop for a second hand suit maybe in order. Encourage silliness. Tell the guys to find a suit that's reeking of 70's or 80's charm. What better way to congratulate the first male and female runners than a slice of "wedding cake" in the face as they cross the finish line. Have the first place male remove the garter from the first female. Better yet - have the first place female remove the garter from the first place male! For our "Pickle Run" Race Series, we go to thrift stores and yard sales and buy the most ridiculous, cheesy "prizes" we can find and award those to the winners. After the race, have a little "Wedding Day Roast" for the Bride and Groom. Encourage everyone to stand and tell some embarrassing stories or toast/ roast the couple, friend and family members.

So the bottom line is that themed should be FUN and there are a assortment of ways that everyone can participate is the wackiness. Cheers!

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