There is no doubt that the popularity of obstacle course races is booming. For this reason, the number of these kinds of races is increasing. The creation of an obstacle course or OCR race is an ambitious project, as there are many factors into account. But it is so exciting! What type of audience am I targeting? Which is the most suitable place? What do I need so that everything goes well and I keep people happy but safe? So, if you are thinking of organising an obstacle course race, you will have many questions running through your head, so read on!
First step: choose the type of competitor you want to enter
Is this a fun obstacle course race or an impossibly difficult or elite race? The level of difficulty (e.g. distance, the severity of challenges) will determine your audience, and especially how you communicate that difficulty. You don’t want to put people off!
While it is true that in almost all obstacle races there are several categories for everyone to participate, not all of them focus their position towards those who want a very hard race. There is also the possibility of enhancing the fun and playful element to appeal to novices and a wider audience. The key really is to know your audience.
It is worth mentioning that choosing your audience will also help you determine the price of entry.
Where and when will your obstacle race be?
These two decisions are fundamental. You should choose a place where the weather will not easily lead to the cancellation of the event. Although we cannot predict the weather so many months in advance, we must choose an area where the conditions are suitable no matter the weather (e.g. no point setting up on a field that is known to flood).
In addition, it must have open spaces where obstacles can be located and you can take advantage of the terrain (e.g. inclines and rugged terrain). As for the season, the truth is that obstacle races are held throughout the year; perhaps in Spring, Autumn and Winter are more popular than in the height of Summer, when it may get too warm and dry! It should also be taken into account that the chosen date does not clash with other key events to ensure your target audience can and will attend.
Choose the obstacles
Once you are clear about your audience, you can select those obstacles that best suit your audience. You will have to design the various obstacles and challenges along and the route. 5K races with 20 obstacles? 10K races with 30 obstacles? You have to give several options so that people can choose the event that best suits them.
Now that you have a clearer idea of what your obstacle race is going to be like, you can start organizing it:
Sort out “Red Tape” and documentation
To organize an obstacle course race, the paperwork you will need may depend on the region in which you decide to organize the event. Some of the “red tape” and documentation you may need includes:
- A map of the venue – entrance and exit, parking, Race HQ, toilets and amenities, catering, changing facilities, first aid tent and of course the start line!
- Liability insurance certificate – insurance has to be your number one priority!
- Parking badges
- Terms & Conditions
- Waiver certificates from l.iability if used
- Promotional material – leaflets, fliers and business cards
- Entry forms if you let people join in on the day
Search for sponsors
Sponsorship is a very common practice in these types of events (some may say vital), which undoubtedly benefits both the advertiser, the event organiser and the competitor (freebies!).
You should look for sponsors that can help financially, but also that reflect the values that you want to promote via your obstacle course event. You may also want to find sponsors that are linked in some way to the type of event or those taking part. You are more likely then to find a sponsor to sign up and then get goodies and freebies for those taking part that they actually appreciate and value!
Hire the staff
Keep in mind that you will need security, customer service and first aid staff as a minimum. This factor alone can make the difference between your event being a success or a failure. You have to take care of every detail so that everything goes well – people are safe and cared for.
Just think of the activities to take care of:
- Registration and other sign-on or sign-up paperwork
- Start and finish line and marshals on the course
- First Aid
- Pre-race planning and organising and dealing with phone and email enquiries
- Car Park attendants (for big events)
- Lots & Found
These type of races often have enthusiastic volunteers who are happy to help with much of the organising and coordinating. However, you may need to hire in some paid specialist. For example – First Aid (e.g. St Johns), Sound & Music Engineers, Caterers.
Obstacle course events obviously have lots of fun and atmosphere. It’s is always a great idea, therefore, to hire a good photographer to capture those memorable moments and to promote your event social media with amazing images.
Giving out awards: Personalized Medals
The important thing is to participate? Well maybe this isn’t the goal in other sports, but it is for many in obstacle course races. It is clear that there will be someone who comes first, someone who manages to overcome all obstacles in record time; but the goal for the majority is to be a ‘finisher’ – “I made it!”.
We, therefore, believe that everyone who takes part deserves a medal. A medal is a tangible memory of the race and of overcoming personal challenges. Many people have a medal display case on their wall at home and proudly hang every medal they have won. Make your obstacle course race memorable, therefore, and the medals will be collectable! Athletes will want to take part year after year and secure a coveted medal to celebrate their participation – “I was there in 2019!”
Personalized Medals allow you to differentiate between your event and other races. They are distinctive and completely unique and therefore a much more valuable keep-sake. You have many options to create the perfect custom medal for your event to help you win hearts and minds.
What types of custom medals can be given in an obstacle course race?
Simple, but of great quality and relatively cheap.
Contrast medals are very popular and well known and they look great. In addition, an enamel filling can be added to make it even more special and distinctive.
Die-cast is the most popular medal, but this does not mean that it cannot be distinctive! It is perfect for creating unique shapes and designs that best represent your event.
Silicone rubber medals are perfect if you are running events for kids. They are fun, cost-effective and durable.
With or without a logo but, without a doubt, what sets Soft Enamel medals apart from the rest, is their elegant and premium quality. They look great and feel top quality and give those receiving the medal that extra buzz.
Communicate the event
Your audience needs to know all the necessary information regarding your obstacle course race. Think carefully about your audience and the media they are interested in and interactive with most regularly (e.g. magazines social media, websites).
So when announcing your event you have many options to reach and engage your target audience: social networks, blogs and specialized websites, sponsoring a YouTube video or a podcast, local radio, newspapers and speciality magazines, supporting local charities and sponsorship in the community.
Invariably, the best way is to mix it up. From experience, it is far more about quality than quantity and sometimes it is better using fewer promotional channels but then doing them very well. The key is to create engaging content, that is highly relevant and inspires people to take part whether they are elite athletes or a complete novice wanting to have a go for the first time.
With all this, you can now start planning your obstacle course event. But just like those that take part in your event, you have to give 100%!