Race Operations

Planning 5k Road Race Route (say that 20x fast)

posted almost 9 years ago | Report

I work advising a college student organization and this fall they are participating in the national campaign, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. For the grand finale of this week in November, they are going to be putting on a 5k benefit for the city of San Marcos.

I was going to sit down and map out the route today but I was thinking it would be great to consult the incredible wisdom and experience that resides within DM :)

Does anyone have any suggestions or preferences for road race courses you've run in the past? San Marcos is extremely hilly, so is that foul play to do some serious hill climbs for a casual race? What about people who have experience with timing-chip devices vs having people time you on the way in? Any help and/or comments would be awesome!


  • If you make it a walk/run, the hills won't be as much of a problem. I live in NH, so most races have at least a few good hills. I've done both chip timed and non-chip races. If it's a smaller race, you'd probably be fine going without chips - it'll probably be cheaper and would make registration easier.

    posted almost 9 years ago

  • I totally agree with Peter L. if you make the race a walk/run hills will be alright indeed. I currently live in Ireland and most races feature several hills. I have taken part in a local 5K series recently only to find that everyone is keen to cruise up the slopes. It is likely that people in your area who run will be used to your hilly terrain and will enjoy the challenge. Good luck with the race! (oh and all of the 5K races have been chip-less.)

    posted almost 9 years ago

  • Hills are fun and give you something to talk about with fellow runners after the race. Seeing that hill in the distance actually motivates me and I find myself picking up the pace. Keep them to a minimum but don't worry about throwing some in the route. Like they say, if this were easy everyone would do it. We all love a little challenge.

    Timing chips aren't necessary for a 5k and like Peter mentioned will keep registration easier. Lastly, if you can, choose less travelled roads so you don't have to go all out with police details to control and stop traffic for runners. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    posted almost 9 years ago

  • I have to agree with Peter, Beth and Lazaro about the hills. I always dread them at the starting line, but then I get jazzed when I see them in the distance. Maybe I have issues, but I love going up hills.

    As far as the chips, I've worked on race committees where we've used them and we haven't. The one good thing they give you is immediate results, but if your race is small enough (under 500 runners) you can easily go without them and its just as easy. The new timing chips that they have out are really nice since they're a single use tab that just goes through your shoe laces and it is attached to your bib when you get it. Not sure if you've seen them/used them yet, but they are much nicer than the ChampionChips.

    There is one other thing I've run into that I've found to be important in the past. Have GREAT volunteers. Lots of them at aid stations and at the finish, as well as along the course in various places. And put your loudest, most fun group as far into the course as possible. It's a 5k to some of us, but it feels like a marathon to others. The more encouragement they have at the end, the more fun they'll have (and your volunteers will love it too). Good luck with the race and I hope all the runners realize what a great cause it is that you're supporting!!

    posted almost 9 years ago

  • For what it's worth, my very favorite road courses (of any length) tend to be at the extremes of hilliness. I like flat, fast ones. I also like really hilly, challenging ones. Of course, I tend to do my best compared to other runners on medium rolling courses ... so it's all good, really.

    The main thing is to describe the course accurately in pre-race info (preferably with a map and elevation profile) so that runners and walkers know what they're getting themselves into.

    posted almost 9 years ago

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