Some runners are wondering why we close entries 2-3 weeks before race day, and won't be accepting entries on the day - in this post I will explain.
There are many reasons why runners might want to delay entering until very near the date or even on the day - injuries, form/fitness, weather, family commitments, to name but a few - and we understand these and more are all valid. For a race like ours, however, late entries cause us difficulties for several reasons...
First - financial. I'll get this one out of the way first because for some it can be a controversial subject. We're a not-for-profit community group so things like this don't matter, right? Well, not quite - we may not have shareholders to satisfy but we do need to be financially viable, and if we waste anything then that's money we can't share with the community and our charity partner. So, how do late entries affect us financially? Our race goodies and mementoes are all branded and have to be ordered 3-4 weeks in advance, so if entries are still open after this time we have to guess how many to order. This inevitably means we order too many as we want to make sure that every entrant gets their goodies, so we end up with waste. In theory we could sell some of the excess, but in practice this is easier said than done. Similarly, if we allow on the day entries we have to buy and set up a number of timing chips. We have to guess how many runners might turn up on the day - if we underestimate we have disappointed runners who might have travelled some distance, if we overestimate we're left with unused chips that can't be refunded.
Second - chip timing. As our race is chip timed, all the runners' data has to be loaded into the timing system before the race starts, which gives us a fifteen minute window if somebody enters at the end of registration. Our timers already have a lot to do on race morning, and whilst we're happy to cope with the inevitable small number of category changes that happen at every race, we're not comfortable with adding an unknown number of late entries to that workload, especially as it might mean mistakes being made in a last minute rush.
Third - and this is the really important one - our volunteers. On race day, our registration is manned by a lovely team of fantastic volunteers who already have a lot to do in order to register everybody who entered in advance. To get everybody sorted in time, we have to process a runner every twenty seconds! Given this, we don't think it's fair to put more pressure on them by asking them to process new entries as well.
But haven't we had entries on the day in previous years? It's true, we have. We've also tried to stop it before, only to give in under the pressure of a deluge of emails after entries close, and it has caused some of the problems I've discussed. So from this year forwards, for the reasons outlined above, we are going to strictly enforce the entry closing date.
We love you all to bits, and we try to be as helpful as we can, but we hope you will understand we are doing this to ensure a viable and smooth running event where everybody has a good experience - runners and volunteers alike.
We welcome all feedback, so please let us have your comments and questions below.