Why You Should Pre-Register For Your Race

Posted by Tim Irvine on Thursday, February 5, 2015 Under: Race Days
       As a race timer and former competitive runner (I never have time to race much any more), I have a lot of race shirts. Anyone who has been running for more than a couple of years has likely amassed quite a collection of cotton, dri-fit, sweat shirt, long sleeves and a tank top or two. Yes the ole race shirt. For many runners it is the ultimate prize; and for a lot of runners and walkers, it is the only prize. So when you get to a race to register on race day and you hear the words, "sorry, we're out of shirts", or at least your size, there is an understandable sense of frustration you will almost certainly feel. Even the top runners and walkers will admit that not getting a race shirt is at the very least, a mild disappointment.

      There are some runners and walkers who rarely want the shirt anyway, so in all fairness I wanted to give my take on the whole race shirt dilemma. I love running shirts. For some reason I rarely wear more than a chosen few. I put them away as if someday I will pull them out and wear them again. But many never see more than a few turns. Since I have been timing races more than running, I still get shirts many times from generous race organizers, but many of those shirts can also find a degree of neglect.

      So what happens? How do races run out of shirts? How can they not order enough shirts? Why?

      To answer this, I have to first explain road racing economics to a small degree. To put a small 5K road race on a lot of moving parts have to come together and work in harmony. The route has to be mapped out and measured, the permits have to be obtained, the sponsors have to come on board and the expenses have to be met all before the race charity can benefit from the race. Awards cost a good bit of money depending on the type. Food, water, timing, venue, these are all expenses that have to be paid. But the most expensive part of putting on a race is...you guessed it, the race shirts. Race shirt costs can jump from $800 to $2000 with little effort. Then if there is a second printing, the prices can double in some cases. Now keep in mind, people who put on a race are trying to make some money to donate to a worthy cause. That becomes increasingly harder to do if you are out-spending your income for the race.

       So many race organizers have to set a pre-registration deadline to get the shirt order in. The way it works is, the organizer will take into account the registrations that have been submitted and then make their best guess on how many extras they should order all while trying to not get stuck with a box or two of extra shirts. It is a balancing act that few race participants have ever been aware of, yet it is a very real concern to almost every race organizer.

      Now with all that in mind; how do you prevent from being left off the race shirt train on race day? Quite simple, sign up early. There are benefits to signing up early for a race. You save on the entry fee, you are guaranteed a shirt in your size on race day, and you avoid the whole race day sign up crowd. Online registration has made it easier than ever to sign up early and some races will only accept online registrations. 

        By signing up early you have given the race organizer a more accurate count of what to expect and it helps them better prepare to put on a quality event.

        As a kid growing up in Louisiana and racing in New Orleans I was introduced to the idea of the no race shirt option. This was a good choice for those who didn't really want the shirt, saving them a few bucks on the entry fee. The organizer still came out good and the participants that took this option seemed happy they didn't have to pay full price. Over the years I have seen this pop up from time to time, not really taking root, but sometimes it could be a good thing.

    No matter when you sign up, early or late; hopefully now you know a little bit more about the "Why" when it comes to race day shirts.

                                                 See you at the races - Tim

In : Race Days 

Tags: "running" "shirts" "registration" 

About Me

Tim Irvine
Meridian, Ms
Tim Irvine