February 8, 2004

Hello Race Directors,
We are pleased to be sending you the first edition of the Race Director Newsletter for 2004.

An event calendar has always been the corner stone of the Cool Running website and will probably continue to remain as such. During Cool Running's ten years of existence, we have posted tens of thousands of events and have seen millions of runners look up those events. We have averaged 5000+ events per year in our calendar in recent years and hope to increase this number in 2004.

We have just introduced our new event calendar last month. This calendar has been many months in the making. It is based on a Mysql database technology. What does that mean to anyone who is not technically oriented? What it means is that we can post your event online faster than before and make any changes in real time. It also means that the runners can find the information quicker than with the previous calendar.

This version of the new calendar incorporates all of the existing features of the previous calendar. This includes a form that is very easy to complete by the race directors. Whenever you submit an entry form, we do not allow it to go live immediately. Even with the use of technology, we still manually vette every single entry by a staff member. Every record is reviewed for completeness and accuracy. We still find that about 20% of the forms contain incomplete fields and obvious errors. The major area of concern is the use of the Race Category check boxes. On many occasions these check boxes are not used at all. These check boxes are there to allow the calendar search engine to find different types of events and if the event director does not check all appropriates boxes then their event will not be found when someone uses the search engine. For example when looking for special types of events such as marathons, relays, triathlons or kid's events, the search engine will pull up all appropriate events provided the check box has been used. The search engine can be found at: http://www.coolrunning.com/eventcal/findEvent.php

The form for the new calendar system can be found at: http://www.coolrunning.com/eventcal/entryForm.php.

Having mentioned that we have included all of the features of the previous calendar, we do have plans for lots of additional features for the rest of 2004, but decided to move slowly at first, to prove the technology and associated database performance before adding new features.

Within the next month or so, we will be adding a user editing feature. This will allow the person submitting the original event, to post edits or changes to the original entry. In the meantime, please send any change requests via email to coolrun@coolrunning.com. We have always encouraged you to submit your events as early as possible and the edit feature will allow you to make as many edits as needed and as the event details finalize.

Some of the other planned features include a reminder system and a geography calculator. The reminder system will send out a reminder email message to event directors. The message will remind them about the event at pre-defined periods before the anniversary date. This will help to remind race directors to post their event details early.

The geography calculator will allow a runner to browse the calculator and find events of any race distances for any date in the future and within specified travel distances from a particular location. For example you will be able to find all of the 10K's within 25 miles of any zip code on any date or pre-defined time period. This is a very exciting feature for everyone involved and is only possible due to the technology on which we built the new calendar.


Productivity Tips

  • Every member of your race committee should have an email address and be on-line on a regular basis (home or work or both)
  • The race should have a generic contact email address (eg info@myrace.com) so that multiple people can maintain it.
  • You need a budget for all of your Internet services but you can do it all for under $250 a year.
  • Use a subscriber service (list manager) for maintaining a runner's and a volunteer's membership and for sending out newsletters and reminders.
  • Try to use the Internet to schedule all of your race planning meetings and use email to work issues that do not need a meeting to resolve.
  • If some members have difficulty in using the Internet, they have one of the members spend time bringing them up to speed.
  • Use the Internet, particularly to perform research on event management, to engage sponsors and to improve overall communications.

There's Gold in Those Platinum's (Part 1)
Dave Camire

Last year Cool Running embarked on a challenging mission to offer our clients a vehicle that allowed them to "super promote" their events. We wanted to inform our readership about the benefits of running in certain events without appearing over zealous in our presentation. As a result of our discussions the Platinum article was born.

Cool Running offers advertisers a 700-800-word spotlight article about the event, which is promoted as the cover story on Cool Running's home page and on the main page of the Events section. The article is promoted for at least seven days with a large color photograph, and for at least another four days with a text promotion. On the main events page, the article is promoted with the same large color photograph for at least a month, in rotation with other platinum advertisers.

Chet Rogers, director of the Applefest Half-Marathon in Hollis, NH, says that promoting through the Platinum article "was the best money we ever spent." Last year was the first year Applefest used this type of marketing and the results were as he puts it "tremendous". Applefest had 1330 runners in 2003 and this translated into a 54-percent increase over 2002.

Although some of the increase can be attributed to the addition of a relay race, Rogers gives a lot of the credit to the Platinum article on Cool Running. "In the past we were cheap. We depended on word of mouth to promote," he adds. "This year we took a chance on the Platinum article. Cool Running cost us the entry-fee of 100 runners. I'll trade the fee of 100 runners for 500 extra runners anytime."

This added marketing power has led to an interesting dilemma for Rogers and his race committee. "Next year we will probably sell out early and have to limit the amount of entries," he adds. Paper applications may also be a thing of the past for Applefest. This year 92-percent of the runners entered the event on-line. This made handling of pre-race data much easier then in the past years.

One thing is for certain, Rogers is planning on another Platinum article for 2004. Click here to read the Platinum article on the 2003 Applefest Half-Marathon.

Applefest Half-Marathon by the Numbers

  2002 2003 Change
Registered Runners 862 1330 +54%
Registered Online 724 1227  
Percent Online vs Total 83% 92% 
Mail in 138 103  
Entry Revenue $17,240 $26,600 +54%
Online Ad Budget $800 $2000 +150%

Note: A $1200 dollar increase in online advertising resulted in a $9630 increase in revenue. $500 of the Applefest ad budget was spent on Gold banners and $1500 on the Platinum Article.

Want to learn more about Platinum Article. Contact Steve Moland at 603-845-0190 or steve@coolrunning.com

Feedback

We invite you to send feedback to us. We are looking at sharing some of your experience, advice and humorous moments with the rest of the race directors. We will also send a Cool Running hat every month to the most interesting submittal. Please be brief with your comments and send them to us for consideration.


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Parting Words

Free calendar listing. Include your event in the Web's most respected and comprehensive calendar of running events. Submit your race now.

Free race results listing. Post your race results on Cool Running. Submit your race results now.

Online advertising. Promote your event with one of our event advertising packages, each carefully tailored for events of specific sizes and needs. Review our event promotion packages.

Paid link. Include your website or race application page on our race applications page for a modest fee. Contact us for rates and information.

Your own mini- website. Build your own web page and registration form in minutes with Cool Running's easy-to-use, automated event builder. Your site gets linked in the event calendar and on our race applications page. Try this affordable service now.

Online race registration. Along with our partners at Sign Me Up Sports, we can help you manage your race registration more easily and more efficiently by moving the process online. Contact us for rates and information.

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Consulting. Our management team has lots of experience with successful race management. Let us help you navigate everything from scoring to insurance to promotion to merchandise. Contact us for rates and information.

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