So you have a cycle event (or any other mass participation event) but you want it to stand out from the crowd? Sometimes your athletes can be a tough bunch to impress but why not follow some of these tips and your event will speak directly to your intended audience...
1. Faultless route marking...Of course we're going to start with this one! .
How many times have you been a participant on an event and you have taken a wrong turn or just got a bit confused when approaching junctions or turns? Yes we've all been there and that's why if you ensure you're signage is clear and easy to follow you'll have great feedback from your participants.
RouteArrows are about one thing - enhancing your event and ensuring your participants stay on track. Imagine if you have a multi route event allowing your participants to simply follow a different coloured arrow depending on what route they are on - with the turns laid out in advance? You can achieve this easily with our arrows. They are eco-friendly, non toxic and biodegradable as well!
2. Go all out at the finish line...
Your participants have just completed a challenge - show them you value their commitment and give them something to smile about. Use the finish line experience to bring your cycling community together and create memories. Flags, banners, music, crowds - go all out if you can.
Why not get an announcer to welcome them in - have a spotter farther up the route, get them to relay numbers back to the finish and then the announcer can make it a truly personalised run to the line!
Bring in a local catering van or other local business who can feed or water your hungry participants and their families.
Make sure you give them a memento of the event - medals are the obvious choice but there are loads of other options including swag bags, a t-shirt, cycling related gifts or similar. If you have a tight budget see if any local business would be willing to help out even with something like a sponsored water bottle. A small thing like this lasts in the memory and helps cement a great day out.
3. Provide event merchandise (to purchase) prior to the event
So this may only apply to larger events but bare with us...providing a combined identity brings people together and provides them with a shared purpose. How great will it be to see lots of your entrants taking part wearing your event branding / colours. This kit will be with them for a long time and they'll be a walking advert for you!
Find a supplier and if you can set up a event shop prior to the event and accept orders, use your online presence and entry points to promote this and drum up the excitement by pushing the collective mentality.
If the above is a bit too much - think about adopting a colour or a costume for people to wear - this again will bring people together, form an identity and perhaps provide a few laughs along the way. You are all about making the memories...
4. Get the local community on board
This is a great way to provide atmosphere, memories and also help on the day!
Events that can bring the crowds out and provide the noise the encouragement will make your participants feel that little bit special and it will also spur them on if they are finding things a little tough. Approach local schools, community groups or similar to see if they would be willing to help.
How about providing some cow bells to the kids (if you can get them sponsored even better) - you have no idea how much that noise makes a difference when you are on a bike!
Be imaginative in how you can get the support, could you run a small kids event in parallel or have side stalls, a bouncy castle or similar either at the start / finish or en route?
5. Pre-event rides / training groups on Strava
This will depend on the type of event you are organising, if it's pretty local then perhaps you can organise one or two pre-event rides so people can vary their training and perhaps meet new training partners?
If you have entrants from farther afield - or competitive ones, why not set up a training group on Strava and publicise it through your various media avenues. You can take this as far as you like really. Offer prizes for individuals who have trained, climbed the most? Another way to engender a community spirit and stand out from the crowd.
6. Refuelling stops that get people talking
Two words - Home Baking - never fails to generate amazing feedback at stops. Back to getting the local community on board.
If this option isn't available then really plan these out.
Can you provide music? If you can it makes the whole atmosphere so much better.
Are there toilets available? If not make sure you get some in...
How busy are they - plan entrance & exit areas (keep people safe).
Don't just go for the standard bananas and flap jacks - be a little more imaginative. Remember participants will crave savoury food as well as all of those sweet treats, lay on something along those lines - sausage rolls, scotch pies, quiche, sandwiches, etc.
7. Ensure the fun is always there
How funny / silly you can go is all dependant on whether your event is actually a serious race or just a fun day out.
If it is serious then plan the fun for the end of the ride (see above re food etc.)
Have a guard of honour for people registering or returning, inflatable arches are a great idea to accompany this - ensure if you are giving out medals the participants get it placed around their neck as soon as possible after the finish.
Get some volunteers to dress up in costume on the course, play music and have some sweets (or even some beer if it's allowed)...if you have a big climb could you encourage crowds to line it and make it feel like the Tour de France?
The above are only a selection of ideas that could help you stand out from the crowd - I think we'll revisit this section by section over the next few weeks and delve deeper into the ideas and add much more....any thoughts or questions please get in touch.