LAST UPDATED: 12 December 2023

Designing a Race Course

How do you design a course that is practical, safe and enjoyable for participants? A chat with DMSE Sports' Director of Events, Meryl Leventon.

Meryl LeventonMeryl Leventon

Designing a Race Course
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As a race director, few things in the race planning lifecycle can be as exciting and enjoyable as designing a brand new race course. From picking a start area to mapping out race distances and figuring out where to place amenities, such as aid stations, race course design constitutes an important first step in shaping your race’s identity - one that will likely affect all aspects of your race experience, safety planning and logistics for years to come.

So, how do you nail this critical first step in making your race a reality? How do you design a course that is as enjoyable for participants on the main stage, as it is safe, practical and easily accessible for you, your team and emergency services behind the scenes?

That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest, DMSE Sports’ Director of Events, Meryl Leventon. As industry people go, Meryl’s a Swiss army knife when it comes to race planning and race day ops, and with tons of experience and a plethora of events under her belt, Meryl will help lay out for us the most important principles of effective race course design, from designing for speed and a great race experience to delivering a course that respects host communities and works well in emergencies, should things happen to go wrong around the race.

In this episode:

  • Deciding on a type of course: know your town, know your market
  • Working with local authorities on approving your course
  • Picking and planning out your start/finish areas
  • Designing your course for a specific distance
  • When you should (and needn't) certify your course
  • How to combine different race distances on the same course (and how to think about start times)
  • Fixing course bottlenecks with a good wave start plan
  • Responsible course planning: communicating with and minimizing disruption for local communities
  • Publishing race day road closures through Google Maps, TomTom and other popular mapping sources
  • Incorporating spectator zones in your course plan
  • Designing for safety: emergency planning, access lanes and coordinating with emergency services
  • Laying out alternate course contingencies in case of weather disruption
  • Designing your course on Google Maps

Meryl's lululemon 10K Scottsdale Google Map:

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

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