top of page

Hosting & Planning

I want to put on a 5K, what do I do now??

So, you’ve run a few 5Ks and thought it was pretty fun.  You think it looks like a good money-maker for a worthy cause.  Now, you have decided you want to put on a 5K yourself.  Problem….you don’t have a clue what to do!!!!  Well, let me help.  Below, you will find some helpful hints for getting ready to plan the perfect 5K.

How much money will I make?

How much money you will make hosting a 5K run solely depends on how much work you are willing to put into it.  A 5K money making run is a direct reflection of how hard the Race Director works to get sponsorships.  You cannot do this alone and you will need a group of hard-working individuals that are willing to help.  I have seen runs bring in anything from $300.00 to $30,000.00.  Normally, entry fees will cover your expenses and sponsorship monies will be what you donate to your organization or worthy cause.

How much money does it take?

Expenses for a run vary but $1500-$2500 is a good estimate, depending on how you do things and how many runners you have.  Shirts will normally cost $7.50-9.50 each for short sleeve.  This cost will be paid for by your entry fees.  Chip timing is anywhere from $800-$1700 depending on the number of participants you have.  Medals range from $2.50-$5.00 depending on how fancy you want to get.  Food and water can be donated at no charge.  Course certification is about $300.00 and event insurance is about the same.  Depending on your city ordinances you may have to buy a permit to host your race and close streets and those costs vary by location.  Race bibs are from 20-45 cents each and other minor expenses may also be incurred. 

Paper or Online Registration

In order to meet the needs of the widest variety of runners you should have paper copies of entry forms, as well as an online registration sight.  The online registrations are free to use, but will charge the runners a convenience fee.  This is a great way to promote your run.  You will need to set your entry fees in line to cover your expenses.  You also need to consider that many families will run your event.  There are a few ways you can handle this.  You can do different price registrations for adults and children, have family registration prices, or charge every participant the same.  You should also have an early registration discount to entice people to register soon!

Setting up a course

Your race course is one of the most important aspects of your run.  Runners like a well-marked course that they will not get lost.  You should plan to have a volunteer at every turn on your course to make sure the runners know where to go.  Your volunteers will need to stay at their assigned station until the last runner passes the assigned spot.  You should also encourage your volunteers to cheer for the participants.  When mapping a course here are few things to consider…minimal turns are best, do not pass the finish line until they actually get to finish, look at the road surface and the neighborhoods you will be sending the runners through, think about where you can put up a water station, where will your traffic be???  Do not try to cross major traffic areas with a run route.  This is dangerous for runners and will make it harder for you when planning the perfect 5K. 

To certify or not to certify, that is the question!!

Course certification is the process of getting your route accurately measured.  A USATF certified course will let runners know that you have an exact course.  This will give your run a more official look and will draw more serious runners to your event.  Course certification comes with a price tag!!  It costs approximately $300.00 to have a route certified and that is good for a 10-year period.  My suggestion is this…host your first 5K and sees how it goes, listen to the feedback you have from people and learn from your mistakes.  If you decide you want to make the run an annual event without any changes to the course, then next year, you can spend the money to get certified.

OMG!!! I am so stressed out!!!

Yes, putting on a run is hard work and very stressful.  Trust me, I have done this many times…the first year is the hardest!!!  Next year will be so much easier because you have already made all the big decisions and done all the work.  From here on out it will just be a repeat of the same things you have already done.  Don’t give up on the first year.  I know you will say, I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!!  But, try it at least 3 years before you completely give up.  It will take any event at least 3-5 years to really get going.

How many shirts do I need to order??

I would suggest doing an early registration deadline to be guaranteed a t-shirt.  This date is normally 2-3 weeks before the race date.  By this time, you will have an idea of how many runners you will have registered.  I would suggest you order 1/3 more than what you have pre-registered.  You will normally have 1/3 of your runners show up on race day to register.  However, any runner that is not pre-registered is not guaranteed a t-shirt.  Remember… an awesome t-shirt design will bring you runners.  Get started on your artwork early and get it posted so people will know what they are getting!!

How do I get money to pay for the expenses?

Sponsorships, sponsorships, sponsorships!!!!  Get out there and start asking people for money.  I would suggest that you set up sponsorship levels.  Make your levels worthwhile.  Example: $500.00 for business logo on back of t-shirt, $250.00 for single line listing on shirt, or donation of items that will be needed for the run like food, water, bibs, goody bag items. 


Where do I get those race bibs?

Race bibs can be ordered for about 20-45 cents each.  You can get plain or fancy.  Generic race bibs are included with our pricing from Race Day Event Services.

Should I use chip timing, or not?

Chip timing is the easiest, fastest way to time a race.  If this is your first race and do not know anything about how to time a race, then I would highly recommend it.  Chip timing can be very pricey, but if you get the sponsorships to cover the cost, it will be well worth your investment.  There are other ways of timing, but they are going to require more time and more volunteers and your runners may have to wait longer for their results.  If the runners can’t see their results pretty fast after they have finished, you may lose them in the future.

How many awards should I hand out?

Awards are always the tricky part of the race.  This is what will draw you more runners in the long “run.”  The more awards you give, the more runners you will see show up.  Runners like to run races that will be easy for them to go home with an award.  We are also seeing younger and younger children enter these races, so be sure you don’t exclude any ages.  Standard age groups are usually something like this… 0-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-15, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-69, 70 & Over for both male and female.  I recommend giving Overall M&F awards and then 3 deep in each age division.  However, set up what works best for the budget you have to work with.  NEVER HAVE YOUR AGE GROUPS SPAN MORE THAN 10 YEARS! You may want to give away participant ribbons to everyone, or you may have something special that you can give away as an award.  The more unique twist you come up with, the better off you will be to draw runners.  Be sure to include this information on your entry form!!

What do I do now??

Well, you have the answers to some of your questions, you think you have a group of people that are willing to help and you know you have a worthy cause.  Contact Race Day Event Services today and get on their calendar.  Race Day will help you every step of the way.  They even have this cool Race Planning Timeline.  They will send you reminder emails each step of the way to make sure you are working on what you need to be at each phase. 

Kate Denning


bottom of page