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How to Plan a 5K


How to: Organize a 5K Charity Run

When you organize a charity run or walk-a-thon, you accomplish so much for the health of the community.

For starters, you get a large group of people exercising. Who knows, your event just might be the starting point for some lifelong couch potatoes to take better care of their health!

You’d also bring much-needed awareness for a health charity or cause that affects many people. Whether you are raising funds for breast cancer research, a cystic fibrosis support group or AIDS awareness, the money from the event will improve…the lives of many folks who need your help.

So what are you waiting for?     On your mark, get set–and GO!→

Step 1. Get a solid planning committee together.

Planning a successful 5K run requires a lot of time, manpower and resources, and can take up to 6 months. To make the whole process more effective, enlist the help of someone with experience organizing a similar event. Your local runner’s shop may have good resources and ideas on planning the event.

Step 2. What is the charity or cause you want to support?

Can the event happen during the designated day or month of the cause for maximum public exposure? For example, it would make sense to have a run benefitting breast cancer research during October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Step 3. Set a date, time, location and estimated number of participants.

Where should the starting point and ending point be? Contact law enforcement agencies to make sure that the route does not break any laws.

Step 4. Break down the logistics of planning the event–from preparing to wrapping up at the end.

A few questions you’ll need to answer as a planning committee:


–Who will handle publicity and media relations?
– Who will handle volunteer outreach?
–Who will be in charge of enlisting participants? How much should the registration fee be for runners?
– Who will take care of renting scaffolding, tables, time equipment, sound system, portable bathrooms and other equipment?


–Who will handle checking in the runners at registration?
–Who will handle safety and first aid?
–Who will handle traffic management of the runners?
–Who will prepare food and water for the runners?
–Who will handle timing the event?
–Who will handle volunteer coordination?


–Who will handle clean-up?
–Who will return the equipment?
–Who will handle finances–reimbursements, expenses and donations?

Make sure the entire group is completely clear of the respective responsibilities each individual is in charge of, and the protocol of how the event will be run.

Step 5. Enlist the help of local businesses.

Write letters, make phone calls, set up in-person meetings. Who can help finance or publicize the event? If they can’t give money, can they donate supplies? Can a local printing shop donate flyers and ads or T-shirts? Check out big companies too. You never know what corporations would be willing to give away: water, energy bars, snacks, sports drinks?

Step 6. Spread the word!

Get the word out in digital and non-digital form: Twitter, Facebook, e-mails, Craigslist, newspapers, magazines, local TV stations, local radio shows, and community centers. Pass out pamphlet and flyers. Consider also runner’s publications, runner’s websites and other media outlets in the running community. Ask the charity you are supporting to help spread word about your event as well.

Step 7. The day of the event!

Make sure that you, your planning committee and your volunteers all know what they are responsible for. Have informational charity brochures and flyers to pass out to the spectators. Encourage people to donate to the cause even if they are not a runner or a walker. By enlisting all the runners and non-runners to donate their time and money, you are maximizing your impact on the community.

Step 8. Say thank you!

Now that you are done with cleaning up, returning the equipment and tying up the loose ends with the finances, don’t stop there. Thank all the volunteers and participants for making this a successful event. Publicize the successful outcome of your event to your family, friends and contacts. Write a blog entry about your experience. By sharing the fruits of your labor with others, you never know who else might be inspired to make a positive health impact in his or her neighborhood.