Welcome to the Merchants of Dirt Podcast Episode #16, hosted by Reckoneer.com founder Kyle M. Bondo. This is your insider’s guide to practical recreational engineering where I teach you the art and science of building, promoting, and directing off-road races. In this episode, I’ll introduce you to a few race day risk mitigation strategies that include time padding, pre-race checklists, and why you always walk a venue BEFORE race day.
In This Episode
Check Your Venue
And Now You Know
Coming Up Next
Call to Action
Check Your Venue
When you do arrive that morning before your registration opens, you need to know if all your gear made it to the venue, where everything is, where everything goes, and how long it will take you put it all in place. If something was forgotten, or breaks during setup, you don’t have a wiggle room figure out a solution or replacement. You also need time to make sure your course is still good. This may include replacing missing course markings, putting up race day boundary tape, and spotting any course changes (like down trees).
Scouting out your venue beforehand is an essential part of your course design process! You need to force yourself to take that one last trip out to the venue today for two very important reasons:
#1 — Everything is right where you left it
- Make sure nothing has changed or has been damaged by weather
- Make sure no one needs access to your venue
- Make sure bandits didn’t tear down your arrows and tape
- Make sure the park didn’t double-book your venue with another event
- Make sure all gates are unlocked or open on race day
#2 — Everything needs to flow
- Make Pre-determine where all of your gear will be placed
- How your gear will get there
- How your gear placement will support your customer flow
- How your customers will move through your venue
- How your customers will finish
The morning of race day will be too late for you to deal with real problems. Pre-checking your venue is a simple part of your process that you should never neglect. Make it a rule that you will never let your course sit too long without checking it out before race day. Your customers will thank you, your team will thank you, and your stress level will thank you too!
Your pre-race day checklist it a tool. It has a purpose and needs to be short and precise. There is no point to a tool that does not have a use. Our pre-race checklist has a very specific use: It keeps you from forgetting to do something or bring something on race day.
The pre-race checklist includes a four (4) step process:
- Read it
- See it
- Bring it
- Check it off the list
Simple and to the point. Before you can shape your pre-race checklist, you probably need to see what one looks like first. Here is a good example of some very specific pre-race checklists:
#1 Week before Race:
- Buy water jugs
- Create direction and parking signs
- Print all your forms and lists
- Get extra survey tape, cones, and posts
- Find reflective road guard vests
- Get petty cash
- Have your printed paper permits ready
- Visit the venue, walk the trails
#2 Night Before Race:
- Put gas in vehicles
- Check gas in generators
- Pack a shovel and an axe
- Inspect your Owie-Boo-Boo Bag (Medical kit)
- Grab your checkbook to pay officials
- Stage and/or load vehicles
- Check weather reports for next 12-hours
- Bed by 9:00PM (If possible — I can’t sleep the night before a race)
#3 Morning of Race:
- Wake up at 3:00AM
- Coffee AND Breakfast (Might be the only time you eat all day)
- Buy ice morning off the race
- Drive to venue — Arrive by 5:00AM
- Prep your volunteers
- Prep your parking volunteers
- Set your gear up at the venue
- Mark the course and send out checkers
- Setup registration
- Set up timing
- Turn on the music
- Open Registration by 7:00AM
- First Start by 8:00AM
Remember that the point of the pre-race checklist is so you do not forget to do something or bring something on race day! Is it entirely inclusive? No way. Your list will be different. Your venue, your course, and your schedule will change with your needs. Some races require you to stay in a hotel. Other races will require you to stage gear at the venue. This may mean posting a watch (placing round-the-clock guards) and sleeping in a tent. The weather might also mess up your list. Rain has a funny way of slowing things down or pushing them back a few hours.
And Now You Know
Mr. Murphy’s Wheel of Woe will always keep on spinning, but if you’ve been a listener to my past 4 episodes of the Merchants of Dirt Podcast, you are now armed with the knowledge of how you can Murphy-proofing your races. You started with the Murphy’s Law of Racing and learned how to deal with race cancellations.
Next, you received a crash course in emergency response planning and an understanding of how your efforts to prepare BEFORE bad things happen will one day directly contribute to saving a racer’s life. You were then introduced to the fundamentals of risk management, giving you a very good handle how to create your own risk mitigation strategy. And then you were finally presented with the race day tactics of venue checking and pre-race checklist.
When it’s all said and done, You’re more informed than most of the race promoters out there. But what’s even better, you now have the tools to bounce back when everything goes wrong! You just have to be willing to use them. Mr. Murphy has plenty of clients already. Take what you’ve learned here and go build better races.
And now you know.
Coming Up Next
In our next episode? Your race permit is the single most important document of your race. It unlocks access, resources, and liability protection. You could even say it is the life’s blood of your race. In the next episode of the Merchants of Dirt podcast I’m going to talk about the permit process, and how to get your next race permit approved! Because if you don’t have a permit, you don’t have a race.
Call to Action
Thank you so much for listening to Merchants of Dirt Podcast. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to me @MerchantsofDirt on Twitter.
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Now go build better races!