A Cry For Help

Sort of, but not the kind of cry you are thinking of. For some reason, back in November, I thought it would be a good idea and an enjoyable occasion to put together a Fat Ass 50k/m race in my town.The town to the west of us hosts the Vermont 100 and the Vermont 50, so why should my town not have one? My town is also home to (sort of) longest two span covered bridge in the US that carries both pedestrians and autos, the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge. (We also have some super rare – only found ten places in the world – Ogden’s Pond Weed but it is kind of hard to build a race around that…)

Back to my cry… I figured this race would be about five friends and maybe a few locals to having a go at 50 miles. Instead I am up to 140 registrants and the numbers are climbing. Now the race is free, and I have explained to folks on multiple occasions that this is a self-supported race, though I will be providing one or three aid stations depending on volunteers (the number of folks willing to volunteer is also surprising). I will not be providing food.

So despite that this thing is free, and people hopefully have low expectations I am starting to get a little nervous. (Really though, what do you expect for a free event?) It’s essentially the same as a “Virtual Run” except you have some camaraderie and you are not donating any money.

My main concern is that people enjoy themselves and comeback next year. I am still toying with how to mark the course and it is between surveyor tape or printed arrow signs.

If you were going to participate in a free race, what would you expect? What would make you return next year? What would piss you off? Any advice on the surveyor tape/print out front?


13 thoughts on “A Cry For Help

  1. Sounds awesome. Free is free. Can’t beat that. I took part in a couple of “free” races while living in Japan. Full of good memories. My only complaint during those events: make sure to clearly mark the course. Not just yourself. What’s clear to you may not be to someone who has never been. Nothing sucks more than trucking along in your own head to look up and have no clear idea where to go next. Beyond that, take a group photo at the finish. Post it somewhere. People like that. Especially us girls! Good Luck with the race!


    • The marking is my major concern, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it, especially since I have no budget. I’m thinking surveyor tape, right at red tape, left at lavender (purple) tape, and straight at silver (white) tape? Maybe throw up some orange tape if you’ve missed a turn? I just don’t know how to make it really visible short of staking the road (it’s 80% dirt carriage roads…).


  2. All we would ask I think is a decent route with a reasonable guide to it, maybe a GPX file if you’ve been out and done the route yourself and most of all a really positive atmosphere. Food and things of that nature are not expected in a free event and you will hopefully get experienced runners who would be carrying their own. Water on route would be essential unless there’s clean water you can get from nature on the route but it sounds like you have most things covered. Good luck with the race 🙂


    • Looks like we have a handful of new runners, but a lot are coming from a semi-local ultra club. Never thought about the GPX file. I have a map on milermeter.com, have to look into that. Thanks for the suggestion. The course isn’t loops, but some lollipop type parts so the water stations are hit a couple times. And it’s April in VT. Lots of streams and snow melt.


      • I think if you know the route you can draw it out on any GPS mapping service, like mapmyrun or Garmin Connect and then make it publicly available – you’ll maybe need a profile on these accounts but it should work


  3. I’be done a couple of free races, on which apart from doing the I would end up volunteering.
    Always returned. I think as long as a map of the route is made available and it’s well marked, you can’t ask for anything more. It’s free.
    As Ultraboycreates, the only demand would be water, not even energy drunk, but water. If you are having the race in a loop circuit, would be nice if you set a table so runners could put their own energy drink/snack/gel, and pick it up when they pass by it. Just a thought.
    One of the race directors would recommend a place for the “after race drink” and people would go the afterwards, pay their own meal and infest the restaurant with the nice “scent” of post-race runner.


    • Being a former rugger, you’d think I’d have that watering hole sorted by now… Unfortunately, my town doesn’t have a low key dive, so it looks like the Harpoon Brewery might be our only option.


  4. If a race is free I wouldn’t expect any food or drink. Also I’ve paid to enter some races that are self navigating so as long as a map was provided I wouldn’t necessarily expect the course to be waymarked either. The main incentive for me would be meeting new people on the run. Oh- and the opportunity to run in a new area 🙂


  5. I think with free, I would just be happy to get anything! I think the atmosphere would be a big part. If you could get friends to show up and cheer everyone on, it would really make a difference. For our local race, the town paints arrows where to go. It gets the job done and is cheap!I have also seen traffic cones with signs with the arrows.


  6. I love this idea! And good on you for what sounds like a success before the event has even occurred!!!

    So long as you’re clear, and it sounds very much as if you have always been clear, that this is a freebie self-supporting race then you know what? I think me or anyone else who entered your event would be in it for FUN and for camaraderie. Markers would be great. And it sounds like you’ve got a number of great suggestions on this.

    Looking forward to hearing how everything goes!


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