Tips for Directors
1. Build a balanced team.
Get a team with a good mix of experience in wilderness medicine, race planning, managing a budget, marketing, and writing scenarios. Don’t be afraid to delegate and follow-up. Encourage less experienced members to get involved; they may be future race directors!
2. Seek outside perspective.
Ask an outside expert to review the race plan, scenarios, and questions for feasibility and accuracy. A fresh set of eyes can make a big difference. Review the race plans and expectations with the venue managers and staff to make sure you are all on the same page.
3. Scout the location in advance.
If going to a new location, talk to locals and venue managers for their perspectives. Make sure to take into account how and when you will get volunteers and scenario materials to various points on the course. Walk the course after the scenarios are written with your co-directors to make sure the race logistics make sense and to make sure the race is doable in the timeframe you have set. Take into account non-participants that may be enjoying the location that day as well.
4. Make it educational.
Make sure racers are learning along the way. Beyond an awesome adventure, racers should be leaving the race with a better understanding of wilderness medicine topics and skills. Build in time for the proctors to be able to give brief explanations at the end of a scenario when teams make a mistake.
5. Make it fun.
Striking the right balance between challenging, educational and fun is key to putting together an event that racers will enjoy and want to return to. Consider comical penalties if a team doesn’t execute a task correctly such as making racers come up with an interpretive dance to earn an educational pearl that will allow them to be successful in a medical scenario. Be creative and make sure there is a good balance of Type 1 and Type 2
fun while avoiding Type 3.
6. Communicate clearly with partners.
Venue managers, park rangers, caterers, sponsors, and your race medical director are key players for the big day. Make sure to communicate your plans and share expectations early to avoid last minute hurtles. Maintaining good relationships with race partners will pave the way for successful future events as well.
7. Plan Ahead.
Establish and maintain a timeline for when you want preparation tasks to get done and make sure to follow-up with your co-directors along the way. Finishing tasks like gathering supplies, printing race maps, and calling caterers early is key; the week before the race should be kept free for last minute troubleshooting. Off-load as many tasks from race day as possible; this is usually a long day for race directors and one you should enjoy!
8. Volunteers are essential.
Recruit volunteers early and often. Many hands make for a lighter load (this includes for race preparation and breakdown as well). Treat your volunteers well and make sure to give clear instructions and pre-race briefings. Consider recruiting local medical students, scout troops, or teams from the waitlist. Try and optimize their experience as well. No one wants to be sitting outside in the cold for hours if they don't need to be there. Provide education and teaching during downtime if possible.
9. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Expect to adapt your plans to the whims of weather, venue rules, medical emergencies, and unforeseen dangers on the course. If you stay flexible and open-minded, racers may not even realize your plan wasn’t executed as initially planned! Have backup plans such as an extra scenario that doesn’t require a lot of resources in case one of your main scenarios falls through.
10. Stay on budget.
Calculate costs early and leave plenty of buffer room for last-minute unforeseen expenditures. When deciding the number of teams to enroll make sure to balance recruiting enough to pay for the event and still provide a fun experience for racers (ie: not too much bottlenecking at scenarios). Engage your local community to find sponsors or champions. These are fairly unique events and if you talk to local park managers, outdoor retailers, rescue squads, and local news, you may find all sorts of interested participants.