We have a series Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users. This NC Troopers Footchase 5K Case Study focuses on Growing a Small Race through community involvement, alternate participant options, and branding.
The NC Troopers Footchase 5K switched to RunSignUp in their second year and implemented some creative promotion techniques to boost their participation from fewer than 70 (in year 1) to 365 in year 2.
About the NC Troopers Footchase 5K: Sergeant Kelly Stewart first conceived of the race as a goodwill event between the NC Troopers and their community. The 2013 race donated proceeds of $3,324.01 to Catawba Regional Hospice in an effort to “partner with allied agencies and give back to the community.”
“We don’t want to just be the person that people see when there’s bad news. We want people to know that we are about them and want to give back.”
Tough Beginnings: “When we started the Troopers Footchase 5K, I thought it was going to be pretty simple…you create an event, you get permits, you create a way for users to sign up, and then you start to try to spread the word and all these people are supposed to show up at your event. Well, it didn’t happen.”
Learning From Mistakes
Rather than letting year one be a crushing discouragement, Kelly wanted to figure out how to make the 2nd Troopers Footchase the event he had hoped to see in year one. He used a post-race survey for some insight and made some decisions heading into year 2. His initial focus points for year 2 included:
Starting Early: “I started way too late. I gave myself about 3 months to do everything; that was my first mistake.”
Year 2 preparations began virtually as year one concluded.
Course Review: “I learned a lot of valuable lessons. One being that just because I am OK with a hilly route, that doesn’t mean that your average runner would like to do that.”
For year 2, Kelly implemented a flatter more beginner-friendly course.
Marketing: “Hey we didn’t hear about this” or “this was the fewest number of people we’ve seen at an event” were pointed remarks indicating that Kelly needed to find new ways to get out the word out about his event.
“And that’s kind of where RunSignUp came into the picture. Immediately I was able to see a difference of how our volume of participants, and how the ease of registration process went into play.”
Something for Everyone: Creating Ways for Everyone to be Involved
“You have to have something for everyone. How can we get people involved that aren’t runners?”
Fun Run: Kelly made the fun run a manageable .6 mile run. He used RunSignUp’s Age-Based Pricing to make the Fun Run $10 for youth 10 & Under to encourage parents to sign up their children.
“You bring the youth, and everyone else will come. That’s how we change America, and that’s how we grow races.”
Alternative Participant Options
Phantom Runner: Kelly gives non-runners – or runners unavailable on race day – the option to participate as a “Phantom Runner.” A Phantom Runner pays less than the 5K registration ($20), and receives a T-shirt for their contribution…but the remainder of their fee goes directly to the charity. Phantom Runner is set up as an event for the race, which non-runners can register for directly. In 2014, they had 68 Phantom Runners – more than the total number of runners in 2013.
First Responder Uniform Finisher: In 2014, Kelly added this concept in response to a First Responder who wanted to participate, but does not run. He is expanding and promoting the option for 2015, with the intention of both getting more first responders to participate and inspiring the other runners with the presence of uniformed First Responders.
Involving the Community
Sponsors: Kelly focuses on encouraging all sponsors, not only those who can make large contributions. In some cases, sponsors made in-kind donations like printing signs; others made financial contributions. In the end, the 2014 race had 27 Sponsors at an average of $123 per sponsor. While those aren’t big numbers per-sponsor it adds up, and was a huge factor in increasing the Race’s charity donation from $500 in 2013 to over $3,000 in 2014.
School Involvement: Kelly spoke at local Principle’s meetings to encourage youth Fun Runners.
Media: Kelly kept in communication with the local media regarding the event both before and after the race. By sharing the personal elements of the race (the symbolism of the Trooper involvement, as well as the charity it supported), Kelly presented a human interest story as well as an athletic one.
Facebook: While not a personal user of Facebook, Kelly uses a Facebook Page to provide information about the event, and keep the event fresh in people’s minds during the months before the race. Additionally, he has added the RunSignUp “SignUp” button to his Facebook page to allow users to sign up directly within Facebook.
“We gained 46 likes in one week…for some of you, that may be no big deal, but for a small race like us, I was doing backflips.”
Using RunSignUp for Brand Recognition
Kelly wanted to make it as easy as possible for runners to register for the race. He used the visual of the RunSignUp logo in multiple ways to “burn the image into the participants, and other people’s minds, so that they will know how to find us.”
Results of Kelly’s Effort & RunSignUp Partnership
- From year 1 to year 2, the NC Troopers Footchase 5K grew 530% – in spite of a rainy race day
- Proceeds available for charity donation increased from $500 to $3000+
- Facebook community grew to 350+ with engagement near 1,000
- For 2015, the race will have a Race Committee in addition to a single Race Director
Building on Success
Kelly is not content to coast on the improvement from 2013-2014. Looking ahead to 2015, he is already focused on growth and improvements.
- There are 20 “T-Shirt” volunteers who have agreed to wear a shirt advertising the upcoming race at 3-5 running events through the summer and fall. The shirts encourage interest in the race, and show runners where to sign up to participate.
- They are seeking a sponsor for the Fun Run to allow 50 youth to participate for free, in hopes that they will bring their families to participate and/or begin building towards an active lifestyle and years of participation in running events.
- They are continuing to build on their social media presence by developing their Twitter and working to build an Instagram account.
- Preparing for the 2015 Race, Kelly included his Facebook community in a vote to determine which charity they would raise money for. The poll had a significant response on his audience: in one week, his Facebook likes grew from 388 to 636 – with nearly 6,000 people engaged.
- They are working with the RunSignUp team to develop their own website to further promote their brand.
- Kelly attended (and presented at) the first RunSignUp Race Directors & Timers Symposium to learn from fellow Race Directors and hear new ideas about growing and improving his race.
If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small, email us…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!