Harrisburg YMCA Race Series Case Study

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 Harrisburg YMCA Race Series Case Study focuses on reaching a broad cross-section of a community, coordinating with a Timer, and encouraging participation through Groups & Teams. 

View the PDF Version of the Harrisburg YMCA Race Series Case Study

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Harrisburg YMCA and RunSignUp

logoThe Harrisburg YMCA uses RunSignUp to manage their unique roster of events, including everything from a One Mile to a Mud Run and a Marathon.

About the Harrisburg YMCA Race Series

Race Director Tom Gifford manages an impressive roster of races for the Harrisburg YMCA. For the YMCA, the race series is an opportunity to promote physical activity, within their mission, and get out of their building to have more interaction with their community and build a stronger community presence. They moved their races to RunSignUp in 2014 as a part of a re-branding of the races to better tie them together as a professional series.

Reaching a Broad Audience Through Varied Events

The Harrisburg YMCA Race Series is an impressive collection of events, covering a wide range of distances and difficulties to allow them to bring in more people in their community and get them involved no matter what their fitness level. Their events include:

  • 4-Mile Vineyard Run
  • Mud Run
  • Mile Race
  • Half Marathon
  • Beer Run

Despite the range of events, the Harrisburg YMCA stays away from the traditional 5K, electing to steer clear of the highly competitive, saturated 5K market and focus on events that can draw through their unique distance or twist. In addition to offering unusual distances, they have built strong partnerships with the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey and Troegs Brewing to create events with a fun, social aspect.


Easy Coordination with Timing Service

The Timer function on RunSignUp makes it easy for the YMCA to work with their timer, PA Runners. They simply give Timer Access when they set up their race, and when registration closes, PA Runners is able to log in and grab the information they need directly from the Race…no downloading and sending data needed.


Using Relay Teams to Reach More Runners

In keeping with their strategy of appealing to a broad segment of the Harrisburg community, the YMCA uses RunSignUp Groups and Teams to allow relay team participation.

For their longer distance races (Half Marathon & Marathon), they will offer a relay team option. This allows people to experience part of the course and the energy of race day even if they aren’t up for running the full distance. They setup their teams with the following parameters:

  • In the Half Marathon, all teams are 2 participants, either all female, all male, or coed. Runners creating teams are allowed to (but not required to) create a password for the second person to join the team.
  • In the Marathon, there are options for male, female, and coed teams in both Open and Masters categories. For Marathon relay teams, they can sign up to participate as a team of 2 or 3, but only teams of 4 are eligible for awards.

The cost of the teams are paid upfront, with the first registrant paying the full fee for the team and additional team members registering at no cost. This means the cost of the team is the same, regardless of how many people are on the team.pic3

The Mile: A True Community Day

“The Mile event has more diversity of age and ability than every other race that we do – and more people who have never run another race. It’s important as a Y to find ways for people of all ability levels to participate!” – Tom Gifford, Race Director

One event that really epitomizes the YMCA’s goal of making their races inclusive community events is the First National Bank of Harrisburg One Mile. It consists of a Half Pint Half Mile (for kids), and untimed “Just for Fun” Walk/Run (for casual participants), a competitive race broken into heats by age (for competitive runners) an Elite Mile (for REALLY competitive runners), and a Corporate Challenge (for team competition).

Because the shore nature of the race requires so many heats, it has a naturally exciting atmosphere that lasts for a full 2 hours, while still being friendly to runners (and non-runners of all levels).

Their Corporate Teams division is simple enough to be set up through basic Groups and Teams (as a 5-person team, where the first person signing up pays the full team registration fee), but serves as a great draw for the race: local companies can use the event as a healthy team-building opportunity.


The YMCA is a 501(c)3, and relies on donations to operate. As such, it’s a nice benefit to have a donation system built in with Race Registration – by simply making donations an option, they raised nearly $1000 for their programs during registrations for the 2015 Aspire Harrisburg Marathon.

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!

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