The Work Involved in Building a Successful Annual Race

January 05, 2024

One of the stand-out events of the festive period is the Grange-Fermoy New Years Eve 10k. The event is highly respected and receives a lot of praise from clubs around the country that take part. Run Republic spoke to Mike, vice-Chairperson of Grange Fermoy AC, to talk about the race from conception to implementation while discussing all the challenges in between.

'Grange Fermoy AC located in north east county Cork recently held their New Years Eve 10Km in what was a stormy and wet day to bring down the curtain on the local road running scene for 2023. This was the third edition of the race which saw an entry of over 370 with 303 participants completing the race on the day. Each entrant that completed the course received a technical running top and were treated to a big spread in the Grange school hall afterwards. 

'The idea behind the race was first mooted back in 2020 when the club was one of the first in the country to hold a race during covid that summer when restriction allowed for 200 people at an event. The club decided at the time to hold an invite only for its 4 mile run in the summer and sent out invitations, there was no charge for those that competed and a criteria of sub 22 minutes for men and 26 minutes for women was required for entry. After the success of this the club looked at running a race during the Christmas period but as we all know covid again put an end to that.

'On rolled 2021 and our club coach Sergiu Ciobanu raised it again about trying to run a 10K around Christmas time. The committee decided to go ahead as some of the organising could be undertaken while organising the 4 mile summer road race - this was still a large under taking to organise two races in one year.

'The first thing to happen every year is to book the race permits from the county board and look for volunteers from the club members to be part of the race committee, there are always a few who would have experience but you also need new faces for new ideas. 

'At this point the job of looking for sponsors start and fortunately we have a few local businesses that are willing to sponsor either the summer or 10k race each year. On top of this we have members who are incredibly generous and would sponsor category prizes or donate money towards the overall pool to cover costs. 

'Pop up races have been used for a few years now and they handle the entries for both races. Closer to the event the race committee will have signage in place to promote the race locally and then using social media to advertise to a larger audience. Toilets for race day and medical cover is booked which will include an ambulance for the duration of the race. 

'A list of volunteers for stewarding etc is compiled 3 weeks out from the race and this generally consists of club members or family relatives. The Marking of the course needs to be completed and generally is done the day before, which includes putting up warning signs, distance markers etc. on race day the course is driven again early in the morning in case any changes need to be made. The day before the school hall is laid out to welcome the runners post-race and all goodie bags are assembled and stored, these are given out at number collection.

'Race day itself starts early around 8:30 at the school with course inspection, set up for number collection, start and finish line set up and Pop Up Races arrive and do their set up. One of the main challenges we have on race day is parking and we have to use facilities in Fermoy that are kindly given to us for the duration of the race, stewards are in place here from 9:30 am with all other stewards arriving at the school from 10 am and from there they will go to their designated point on the course to ensure the safety of all participating in the race that starts at 12pm, like most races it’s an open road course so traffic has to be controlled and not stopped. 

'Runners have the option of warming up the 1.5 mile distance to the start from town or catch the bus that is hired to bring people in and out before and after the race. Race number collection on race day start at 10am so numbers and goodie bags have to be ready. Club members donate food, cakes, biscuits water etc. and this is all set up from 10am onwards in the school hall and is looked after by club members both from the juvenile and adult sections. 

'The race itself had an entry of just over 370, with 303 taking part on the day so there is a lot of logistics around feeding not only the runners but the stewards and supporters also. The hot teas, coffees, sandwiches, cakes buns etc. are always a big hit and especially this year as the weather was so inclement and people always enjoy the catch ups in the hall post-race, it’s part of the appeal to all runners – the social interaction. The prizes are given out in the hall and in some cases they are posted out afterwards as people would have left. 

'Once all the runners have left the clean up begins, one group will go around the course and remove all signage while others will clean and return the school hall to pre-race conditions, with help this is completed by 3pm to allow everyone to head home and enjoy the rest of the day. 

'All the above would not be possible without the hard work of the race committee, volunteers, club members, sponsors, runners and the local community. While organising a race brings a lot of headaches it is always very rewarding when you receive positive messages afterwards from the people who had taken part. People will take a few weeks off now before the cycle of race organising starts again for 2024.'

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