eseo e logo red
+ Run The Day
Announcement! We've partnered with Run The Day to help boost the Philadelphia running community.
- Read the Press Release -

Think Like a Runner: Course Design Considerations

Would YOU want to run this race!

I was recently hired by a non-profit group looking to bring back a race that had been dormant during the pandemic.  Our initial conversation covered the usual topics: budget, timeline, fundraising goal, swag.  After the call, they shared the link to the previous course and asked for my feedback.  

Suffice it to say, my first reaction was “I would NOT want to run this race!”  

This 5K course was a twisty knot of city streets that crossed over itself within the first mile and had runners looping the entire course three times.  I immediately jumped on MapMyRun and got to work on an alternative.

eseo + Run The Day

These are the issues that stood out to me that I wanted to address in my re-route:

1. A route that crosses over itself (especially that early) limits potential participation count which in turn impacts revenue and profit prospects.  

2. Too many turns or loops creates a less-than-ideal experience for most runners, including wheelchair participants.  It can actually lead to injury and/or collisions, especially if runners are not aware of the course in advance of race day.  

3. Since the race was in a residential area, I imagined a lot of irate residents trying to maneuver around the neighborhood and encountering runners at every intersection. Imagine trying to figure a way out in this scenario!

In addition to addressing these issues, I had a list of nice-to-haves:

1. Good parking options for participants and residents

2. A course that was challenging for all levels of participants (walkers, beginner runners, runners returning from injury, competitive runners, runners with disabilities)

3. A course that allowed for strollers / dogs as this race directly benefited families in the community

The overall theme is that our races serve many populations from the participants to the communities we run through to our vendors and sponsors.  While there may not be a perfect fit that makes everyone happy, considering as many perspectives as possible goes a long way to gaining buy-in and growing your race.  Don’t think of them as limitations, but as opportunities to be creative!

eseo search icon
Would YOU want to run this race!