7 Ways to Help Your Participants Register and Get In Shape for Your Race

Swimrunners supporting each other at the finish line

In our latest participant report, a common theme was a slow start after the pandemic including injury, recovery and lack of training. A major reason for the decline in race participation this year is due to this simple fact: many racers are out of routines and not in shape – or at least don’t think they are in good enough shape to race at their desired level. 

What can we do about this as race organizers? We want people to come to our race, and show up fit enough to finish! As leaders in the industry, you have an opportunity to inspire people to get back on track. In this article, we give you our best ideas on how you can help participants set goals, sign up and make a plan to develop their fitness to show up in shape for when the starting shot fires. 

7 Ways to Motivate Your Participants 

1. Offer a Training Program when participants register 

This is the ultimate way to get both motivated racers and not-so-in-shape participants that have the potential to finish your race, to sign up. Partner with a coach, local training group or club and have them write a training plan specifically tailored to your race. Then, agree with your program partner on how you should each promote the program plus race combo in your respective channels. Either pay a lump sum for the program or work out a deal where the coach gets a kickback on every plan that is sold together with the race registration.

Usually, you can add this plan as an extra option right in the registration flow, so people see it when they click that sign-up button. At RaceID for example, we have a built-in option for you to offer your participants a Racefox training plan. 

It is important that you plan out a smart promotional strategy to spread the word about your spectacular race and training combo- make posts on social media, send newsletters and make banners on your website. This is also a good target for a paid social or search ad, which will boost your conversions and increase the reach of your message. 

2. Help participants set a goal from the start 

It is hard to race without a goal. For some, that goal is to win, and for others, it is just to finish the race. Setting an achievable and inspiring goal for a race is not easy though, and this is something you can help your participants with right when they sign up.  Share tips on goal setting through social media, in your confirmation email, and perhaps even write an article on your race website. You can use your existing participants of all levels and ask them questions about how they set goals to then share with your new participants or beginners. 

“It took me a while to realize how important it actually is to set goals for yourself – big and small. It makes it so much easier to focus on training and preparation. My short-term goals can be as short as completing this week’s workouts in the best possible way, while the long-term ones can stretch years into the future. For me, the long-term is often about some championship where I want to be ready to perform at my peak!” 

– Lovisa Lindh, elite track & field athlete & Swedish record holder 800m, about the importance of setting goals. 

3.  Regular training tips and workouts 

Give monthly training tips or specific workouts, that you either send out via email, post on social media or both. This gives participants a regular stream of training inspiration and attracts the curiosity of new participants throughout the season as they wonder what and why those training sessions are as they scroll through their feeds. 

You can work with a coach or race ambassadors here as well (see more in the next point). 

4. Use Ambassadors for inspiration

Make sure to get a handful of race ambassadors for your race. These can be veteran participants, elite stars or just people that come to your race that you know are inspiring and will post about their training and racing on social media or write about it in their own training blogs and websites. 

Make a list and approach the people you want to work with with a suggestion. Some may be willing to post about your race in exchange for a free spot while others may want a proper long-term or short-term contract with payment. There is a multitude of ways you can work with ambassadors and influencers, but usually, the best way is to create long-term relationships. Work out a deal that benefits you both, and make sure that the ambassadors post regularly about how they are training and preparing for your race. This will inspire many others to sign up and start moving!

5. Get everyone to share their training with a hashtag

Influencers and ambassadors are not the only people that can post and share their race journey. By creating a “journey” or “race” hashtag, you can encourage all your participants to share their training for the race on their social media channels and on Strava or similar. Even if the majority have a smaller following in their channels, it can make a big impact when you summate all those micro-interactions. 

Make sure you promote your hashtag everywhere. Add it on print material, on your website, in all your social profiles and on your race registration page. Don’t forget to also add it to your email communication, including your registration confirmation email. 

6. Organize local training groups and sessions with coaches or ambassadors 

A partnership with a club or coach can indeed be useful in many scenarios. Collaborate with a training group or organize one yourself in your local community. It is a well known fact that training with others boosts motivation, increases commitment and enhances performance. Promote your race with your monthly or weekly training group and make sessions that help people prepare specifically for your race. With the whole group training for the same goal, you’ll create a unique sense of belonging through the shared struggle to reach the final big goal, which is of course, your race! 

7. Make one or several course recon opportunities 

Related to the training groups – organize several or at least one training where you test run, bike or swim the course of your race. This is highly appreciated by already signed up participants plus is a fun event that promotes your race to your local community. Make sure you create a Facebook event for your course recon day and perhaps even create a separate sign-up page to collect email addresses and monitor or limit attendance. 

How do you work towards motivating participants? We would love to hear about any more tips you have. Don’t forget to check out our other articles on how to boost your event marketing in case you are struggling to find new participants.