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I am looking to manage my forst 10k this next spring. We have formed a committee of runners and have chosen a charity but am really wanting to know what would make you say "Wow! that was the best 10k I have ever been to." I you could let me know it would help us make this a great race.
I've raced a lot of 10K's. The most important factor for me is a well organized race, including: efficient and accurate registration and check-in, a course that makes sense (sufficiently wide, in good overall condition, relatively few turns), a well marked course, efficient and accurate chip timing by a reputable company, and - educated volunteers who are familiar with the course and know what they're doing.
Other things I'll look for:
(1) Plenty of water at the finish line. I personally don't drink during a 10K (unless it's unusually hot), but a quality 10K would also include 2 or 3 well-placed and well-stocked water stations along the course as well.
(2) The basics of post-race food (bagels, fruit, energy bars etc.), and enough of it for all the runners. The more variety, the better, although that can run up the cost unless the food is donated by local businesses.
(3) A quality T-shirt that I'd be proud to wear at another race.
(4) Plenty of parking near the start, preferably free. (I live in Los Angeles where race parking often is a big deal).
(5) A website that clearly describes all the essential race info.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills 5K, Ontario, CA, 25:17
New Balance Palm Springs 5K, Palm Springs, CA, 24:32
@ 10K: (coming in March)
I'm new to 10ks having only run two (and an 8K) but I can tell you what I like:
Everything CRL8686 said. And:
Most of the above isn't necessary of course, but it adds something to the event when it feels like an Event (capital "E")
3/19/11 Holy Grail 5K 36:20 (First 5K)
4/10/11 Wellness 5K 30:48
4/23/11 Stonyfield 5K 30:28
5/7/11 Dover 5K: 29:39
5/23/11 Get Fit in May 5K 29:44
5/29/11 Redhook 5K 29:32 (PR)
6/11/11 Market Square 10K 1:08:40 (First 10K)
8/18/11 Saunders 10K 1:07:35.49
9/5/11 St. Charles Childrens' Run: 29:54
9/10 Fox Point 5 Mile: 49:03
9/25 Holy Grail 5K: 32:33 (with bronchitis)
10/9 Great Island 5K 32:54.23 (still with bronchitis)
11/13 Seacoast 1/2 Marathon: 2:31:39 (1st 1/2 Marathon)
1/1/12 First Run 10K 1:4:45 (PR)
2/19/12 Half at the Hamptons 2:28:18 PR
3/24/12 Holy Grail 5K 28:17 PR
4/21/12Whale of a 5K (first trail race) 30:24
3/30/12April Fools 4 Miler 36:39 (9:10mm)
6/12/12 Margaritas 5K 27:52 (9mm) PR
I just talked to a race organizer for an event that gets < 3K runners, and he said his tech shirts cost him $4 more than cotton. Trust me, they're WORTH it! It's a shirt that will last a long time, and I run in all the time. That means I'm much more likely to enter that event than the one that gives me yet another cotton t-shirt. I'd even pay $5 more in entry. Gladly. And that also means the sponsors get more exposure on the road, as opposed to sitting in a drawer.
Another thing I've mentioned when this question came up before is running socks or reflective gear. Many of us run in twilight or night conditions, and reflective arm bands, clip-on LEDs etc can be very nice.
And a peeve of mine about longer events (1/2M and M) is when the start/finish are not the same, and there's no transportation between them. I don't have anyone to give me a ride, so if I can't find someone getting a ride who can take me, then I can't do the event. (And it makes matters worse if I email the 'questions' address about it and get no response. I know you're busy, but if you ignore legitimate questions, you lose participants.)
ok, I'm on a roll. When you announce the event, make sure all the pertinant details are there. Date, time, distance, cost. Often I'll receive an email announcement for an event, and I have to go to the event's website to find out basic info like the early registration date/cost. The more I have to dig around to find out the basics, the more likely I am to pick something else.
I've even recently seen childcare provided at one event. So you can go do your 5/10k, the kids can do their 1/4 mile or whatever, and have a safe place to hang out until you get back. I don't think most runner expect that, so I'm not sure how much it attracts people, but my son is getting to the age that I'd take advantage of it.