Things to consider first:
Your first order of business needs to be to survey the area for existing events similar to what you are planning. If you are planning a Turkey Trot, you are bound to have more competition since most of these events all take place on Thanksgiving morning. Downtown Dallas has a Turkey Trot that is in its 49th year. It has established itself as a Thanksgiving Day tradition for many runners in the area. Many people drive or take public transportation to get to this large event. It can be a bit of a hassle. As a result we have seen many new events spring up in the suburban communities as an alternative. If you are thinking about a new Turkey Trot, the proximity to these other newer races is your biggest concern.
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If your local community does not have one yet, then there is a huge opportunity for you to be the one to start the new local tradition. The key will be to get local businesses, community groups, and families to embrace your run as their hometown event where they will see all their friends and neighbors and enjoy the holiday season together. The same is true of Jingle Bell runs or any events in December. The Hot Chocolate Run has been another popular variation.
When to have your event:
The obvious choice as we mentioned for a Turkey Trot is on Thanksgiving Day. Jingle Bell runs can really take place anytime in the month of December. Generally Christmas Day or Christmas Eve do not seem to be very ideal days for these events. It could be different in your community depending on what else is going on. For December events, you need to also look at what other non-running events are taking place in your community. You do not want to try and compete with well-established and well-supported community events of any kind. If anything, you may want to consider piggy-backing off an established event. A holiday parade or tree lighting at the town square just might be the right opportunity to join forces and add to the festivities.
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How to make it unique:
No matter when you decide to schedule your event, you need to come up with your own distinct theme to get your community to rally around your event. People are always feeling a bit more charitable this time of year, so maybe partnering with a worthy cause in your hometown may be the foundation to build upon. You could require each participant to bring 10 canned items to the race for donation. Shelters always need warm clothes and jackets in the winter. You could make your event THE big community push to help these organizations who help so many in need.
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Of course it has to be festive! At RaceDirector we are always talking about how you need to make your start/finish area a party no one wants to miss. This always means music. Runners love to dress up in costumes during the holidays. Hot Chocolate, egg nog, and Christmas cookies at the finish. Think about how many unique possibilities there are for cool swag to include with a race entry. Most town squares of historic business districts are decorated and lit-up for the holidays. Have your run at night after dark and encourage people to light themselves up! There are an endless number of ideas to make your race the running event of the holiday season.
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It might be getting a bit late to get your own new event pulled together for this season, but you can pay attention to what is happening already this year and find just the right time to put your new race on the schedule for next season. If you do want to make a go of it this year, RaceDirector has all the robust tools you need to quickly get organized and get busy!