Tag Archives: website

November Update

I’ve got a few specific posts I want to write about everything from recruiting sponsors, to timing services, to event insurance, but it’s been too long since I’ve posted here so I decided to start with a more general post to keep everyone up to date.

Since I secured the permit for my race, my first task was an update of the website. There’s still plenty to do there, but I’m happy with how things turned out and it will be easy to fine tune as things progress. I’m an information junkie, and whenever I’m interested in a race I love to get every last detail that’s available. While there’s always a danger of information overload when potential runners visit the site, I tried to strike a balance and organize things so that no one is forced to read everything on the site if they want to be a little more selective.

One important thing that’s missing right now is the ability for folks to register for the race; not a minor detail! That’s not an oversight on my part, and for now I did add an email field so anyone who is interested can sign up to be notified when registration opens. As I’m learning, most decisions to be made in preparing to put on a race have dependencies on other decisions. So, for instance, opening registration depends on setting up a fee structure for the different events. But the fee structure influences the race budget (I’ll do a future post on race budgeting as well). But some items on the race budget depend on getting quotes and deciding on service providers. And so on…

As much as I like to pretend I can know everything ahead of time and plan perfectly, I’ve eased up on my inner control freak and made some best guesses that have allowed me to set the race fees. (Full disclosure: I still used a spreadsheet to run scenarios for different attendance levels and fee structures. My inner control freak wasn’t totally ignored.) With that done, I’m looking to get registration open by the end of November. Early birds, take note!

Once I had the permit, I also felt comfortable moving into an active phase of recruiting sponsors. This is completely virgin territory for me. My work and life experience to date has not involved sales, promotions, or anything that requires this flavor of networking and recruitment. Moving out of the comfort zone is always a great opportunity for growth. And a great chance to flounder around learning as I go. I’ve started conversations with several local sponsors, and filled out a few online requests for some larger corporate brands, so stay tuned and I’ll write up my adventures in that arena.

There’s been an array of other items that have been fighting for attention: additional emails with the city trying to figure out insurance requirements, getting quotes from companies who provide race timing services, looking into renting emergency medical personnel, and figuring out a marketing plan, and recruiting volunteers. My intention is to share it all with you, plus the inevitable 37 other things that arise over the next several months.

Questions? Suggestions? Things you’d like to read more about? Leave a comment and let me know.

Creating A Race Website

After my long-awaited victory in getting a permit for my race, I had a new mission: an updated race website. I had previously put up a quick and dirty placeholder website, but that said little more than “Hey, a race is coming!” Before I could move forward with telling more of the world (like potential sponsors, volunteers, and participants), I wanted a more “real” web presence.

With that in mind, I would like to unveil the newly revamped Rim To Rim Trail Run race website. There is still work to do and some content to add, but all the building blocks are in place and anyone visiting the site should be able to get the majority of their questions answered. Please look around, I’d love to hear any and all feedback. And don’t hesitate to point out any errors or oversights. The earlier I get those fixed, the easier it is to pretend they never existed!

For anyone thinking about putting on their own event, I’d like to spend a little time on the specifics of my choices for the website itself; what platform I used, who I’m using for hosting, and what I like and dislike about my choices so far.

The blog you are currently reading is a WordPress blog, hosted and managed on WordPress.com itself. For other web properties I created, I’ve used GoDaddy.com for domain registration, hosting and website management. They have a variety of options, and I’ve explored two: Website Builder and Managed WordPress. So far, I’ve found GoDaddy to be a great one-stop solution for basic website needs, though it’s not without its pain points.

My background includes software engineering and website development, so I was of course tempted to create my own full website solution, utilizing a 3rd party like GoDaddy just for domain registration and maybe server hosting. However, my primary aim with this blog, my trail run coaching business, and the race website was not to make them a technology showcase. I wanted to focus on the business itself: blogging, race directing, coaching. The best way to accomplish this was to focus on finding helpful tools to help me create the content and get it out on the web. As a race director, I want to direct a race, not spend half my time coding and supporting a website.

I first tried out Website Builder for my coaching website, and was basically pleased. It is a very basic WYSIWIG website creation tool, focused on starting with a theme and editing the components (images, text blocks, etc.) exactly as you want them to appear on your website. I would recommend this solution, especially for users with a small number of pages and/or little to no technical background. There are definite limitations to the tool, and you don’t have direct access to the HTML and CSS for your site. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you don’t have any experience with the technology side of the web. You can get started with a year of Website Builder (including a free domain registration) for only $12, so if you’re considering this at all the barrier to entry is very low. One warning: because it is so inexpensive there are a lot of a la carte additions for making your website mobile-friendly, SEO help, etc. It’s still a reasonable cost, just something to be aware of.

For those with a little more patience, I would also recommend the Managed WordPress option on GoDaddy. That is what I ended up using for the Race To The Rim website. Even though WordPress is a blogging platform, it works just fine for creating static web pages, and there is a fantastic array of WordPress themes available for a small fee. There are also countless plug-ins designed to provide additional functionality to the basic WordPress installation. A couple of caveats: this is a hosted installation of the WordPress software and database. You shouldn’t have to do much with this, but it’s not as invisible as it would be with a blog on WordPress.com. Also, regardless of hosting, WordPress has a ridiculously large number of menus and options. There are tutorials and videos to help you along, but there is a certain level of technical sophistication required to get the most out of the platform. The upside of that is you actually have options for customizing CSS, working with the HTML on your pages, and doing other, more advanced things with your site. If this doesn’t sound too daunting, you can also get Managed WordPress and a free domain for $12 a year. Again, very low risk for anyone wanting to experiment.

GoDaddy and WordPress are far from the only options out there, and I encourage any race directors to look around and find one that fits with your technical experience. In the end, the website platform is just a tool. As race directors, we want to get the message about our event out to the world. In 2014, having a website is a mandatory part of getting that message out. Find a tool that let’s you do that with a minimum of friction so you can focus on the rest of your (very long!) to-do list.

Have any thoughts on good/bad/interesting website tools for race directors? Let me know in the comments.

Social Media

Since my race is still waiting for permit review, and doesn’t take place for another 9 months, I’ve not yet started to heavily promote the event. Of course, I don’t want to wait until the last minute and then try to figure out all the best ways to reach out to runners. This week I’ve started laying the groundwork for the key to promotion in the modern age: social media.

I have to confess, I have lived for a number of years as more of a social media shut-in. While I have a Twitter and Facebook account, I have not been anything remotely resembling “active” on either site. But I know that’s not an option for someone putting on a public event in this era, and I’m working on a social media strategy, both for this blog and the race website.

This blog, with its focus on the Race Director experience, will remain an independent entity from the race itself. I hope folks will be interested in both, but you won’t have to follow this blog to run my race. To that end, I’ve created a Twitter account specifically for the Race To The Rim blog: @racetotherim. I decided not to have a Facebook presence for this blog, so I didn’t create a Facebook page. The blog itself serves as a destination for content, comments and discussions, so I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by posting the same content to Facebook.

For the Rim To Rim Trail Run website, I’m taking a slightly different approach. The audience here will be runners wanting all the basic information about the race, as well as relevant and timely updates. There will also be some amount of dialog, with runners having questions and (hopefully) wanting to tell their friends about their upcoming adventure. I’m using both Facebook and Twitter to facilitate these conversations, so I’ve created @rim2rimtrailrun on Twitter and a Rim To Rim Trail Run Facebook page.

All of this will be a big experiment for me in the social media arena, and I’m excited to see how it can be used both for race promotion and for providing benefit to runners once they have signed up for my race. Please check out all my Twitter and Facebook properties and let me know your thoughts. Tweet, post, and comment away!



The Race Website Is Live

As I mentioned in my August Update, I’m still waiting on permit review by the City of Chico. I couldn’t let those delays make me complacent, so I went ahead and setup a placeholder website for the race. May I present, the Rim To Rim Trail Run (ta da)!

My goal was simply to get a placeholder website up and running, with the domain I wanted and some very basic information about the race. To meet those needs, I elected to use Website Builder from GoDaddy. I was already using GoDaddy for this blog’s domain registration, and they had an easy program to get a deal on the domain when I purchased the Website Builder product. The Website Builder product is limited, but very straightforward to use. They have a variety of website templates to choose from, and after selecting one you can customize everything on the site using a visual editor. In a couple of hours I had everything purchased, some images added, a little basic content entered, and the site up and running.

To be clear, this is not the route I would go for a more robust, complex website. You do not have access to the site’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so you are limited to the widgets and options their editor provides. However, for this first pass and a basic website with some static content this option has worked out well.

Once the permit approval process is complete I’ll be looking to make rimtorimtrailrun.com a true destination website. As it evolves I’ll be happy to hear any feedback from the community on how to make it the most attractive, useful trail run website out there.