If go to the Czech Republic, you can miss RunCzech.
In addition to 8 races including Prague Internation Marathon that gather more than 82,000 runners per year, they have a running mall in downtown Prague, a running league, running shoe co-branding with Adidas and more.
We’ve had the opportunity to meet Václav (Race Director at RunCzech) in person in October, and it was clear to us his success and vision about organizing races we had to share that with our readers!
Lots of great advice for race directors in this interview!
What is your background? How did you end up race director?
I used to do athletics long time ago and I was part of a volunteers group at Prague Marathon events. I did it for 8 years. When I finished my university studies (IT management), I wanted a job in sports and approached Prague Marathon and they accepted me. I started on small projects and registration management. I have been with them for 9 nine years.
What is your most memorable day as a race director?
Not a single day, but the start of every race is emotional – when Vltava song starts to play and all runners begin to run to accomplish their goals.
What makes Prague Marathon & other RunCzech events truly unique?
Better to ask our runners. All our events start and finish in city centres on main squares. All are managed by the same team and our quality standards are very high and we never stop improving. All events are combined into unique RunCzech Running League – a ranking, where women can beat men and results are classified by occupations.
What do you wish you knew about organizing running races when you started out?
How hard and emotional it is.
Digital Marathon, mobile application or running boutique; you always seem to be at the cutting edge of running races at RunCzech, what are your secrets?
Create, innovate, never stop going forward. With digital marathon, people can run the course anywhere, anytime. Running Mall offers year round activities and running club with professional coaches. Mobile application and Mattoni FreeRun project allow people to run around the Czech Republic with coaches and small training groups.
You also seem to have a very analytical approach towards your races statistics, how is that important to your success?
Data are very important in all businesses. In road running it helps us to understand our runners, their preference and their progress in running. It helps us to set focus and target where needed or appropriate.
You must have seen everything when it comes to race logistics! What are your best logistics tips for race directors?
Plan and improvise, because plans never work 100%.
Prague Marathon & Half Marathon seem to be always sold-out, what are your best race promotion tips? How do you grow a race series up to 82840 runners per year?
Being sold-out is hard work and not by definition. It takes lots of efforts and base lies in the race itself. Best promotional tool are runners as they share their experience from our events. Runners can choose from wide portfolio of events and everyone can join some of it. All runners are beautiful.
Do you have other race competitors? If yes, how do you differentiate?
World of running is very large and there are thousands and thousands of event all around the world. I enjoy the fact that most of the organisers are friends and cooperate.
How many volunteers do you need? How do you recruit & manage them?
We have about 7 000 volunteers in one season. We have volunteers coming individually, and much more are coming in groups – sport clubs, schools, friends, … Each group has a leader, to whom we talk. They are part of the race, very helpful and appreciated by runners.
Race directors’ #1 challenge is securing sponsors. What is your secret sauce when it comes to finding & securing sponsors?
Sponsoring is evolving as well. Each partner has different communication goals and we offer them a wide platform of opportunities, which can be used. Unique brand activations are more and more popular among them.
What is usually your biggest challenge when it comes to organizing RunCzech races?
Organizing events is compromised of thousands of small pieces that fit together like a puzzle. Tracking status and controlling all is tricky part.
Where can people find you and your races online?
Running Mall is based in Prague. You can see us on many Expos around the world. Best is to come to our event.
You can visit us at www.runczech.com