Parenting Towards Event Success

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

I recently had the pleasure of giving a short talk on online registration at DG Productions’ Race Director workshop in Oklahoma City.  One of the most interesting presenters at the workshop was Abbi Meadows, who founded Hot Mamas Run, billed as “Oklahoma’s Only Women’s-Only 5K Race and Baby Parade.”  I felt a particular affinity with Abbi, since I did the same crazy thing many years ago and started a 5K in Chicago, basically on my own.  However, while my first year event had about 250 participants (admittedly mostly friends and family), the inaugural Hot Mamas Run drew 1,000+ women from eight states!  How did she do it?  Following is an excerpt from her presentation.  Incidentally, Abbi has two step-children, her own 3 year old son, and is expecting another.  It’s not surprising that she compared race directing to parenting!

Race director Abbi Meadows (right) congratulates a finisher.

Race director Abbi Meadows (right) congratulates a finisher.

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by Abbi Meadows

I became a mother three years ago and a race director just last year.  It turns out that race directing and parenting are lot alike.  Your race becomes your baby: you want it to be successful, yet you lie awake, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into!

Your race becomes your baby: you want it to be successful, yet you lie awake, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into!

I developed an acronym to help guide me. I’ve found these 6 tenets to be the most critical components of race directing.  I’ll be focusing on two of these key factors:  advertising and networking.


P is for Particulars (whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys)
A is for Advertise
R is for Research
E is for Empower
N is for Network
T is for Trust


  • Create a great logo and put it on everything. I have a background in design, but if you aren’t a designer, find one!  Local colleges often have budding designers who are eager to build a portfolio.  Print shops also employ their own designers.
  • Be clear, concise, and catchy. As long as your race has a memorable name or look, people can always find you online. When they do, make sure there’s something for them to see.
  • NEVER underestimate the power of word of mouth. Out of our 1,000 registrants, we got 150 through Facebook and Twitter and 460 through friend and family referrals.  That’s over 600 registrations without spending a dime.
  • Focus on your website.  A great website not only strengthens your brand, but posting important details there will cut down on the number of emails and phone calls you receive.
  • Be careful not to lose your voice too soon.  Especially with a 5K, people aren’t thinking about what race they want to run 6 months in advance.  Concentrate on the 2-3 months just prior to your event.


  • Networking is about building relationships and serving others.
  • Find organizations and groups with a similar mindset or goal and let them know about your event.  For instance, our mission at Hot Mamas Run is “to benefit Oklahoma-based organizations that provide education, resources, and support to women, children, and families in our community.” Partnering with our beneficiaries – the Food for Kids Programs at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma BirthNetwork – not only raised awareness about the two groups but helped us recruit volunteers and participants who may not have heard of us otherwise.
  • Network with your sponsors as well. Don’t be afraid to ask companies to consider sponsoring your event. As the old cliché reminds us, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
  • Network with other event directors!  I want to encourage you to help each other and try to avoid the “scarcity mindset” that fools you into thinking helping someone else somehow diminishes your own success. Don’t be threatened by each other, but instead take the time to build a friendship and help each other to grow

If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact me at


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