How to Organize a Run/Walk

How to Organize a Run/Walk

Following are suggestions to help you organize a run/walk. These are simple guidelines and ideas put together by other Galactosemia Foundation parents.

How does this event make money?

Participants pay a registration fee to walk/run in the race. The overhead to organize a race is very low. Generally, the snacks, water, and goody bag items are donated. The venue is generally a free parking lot with free use of restrooms close by. The organizer generally pays for t-shirts and maybe a person to time the race, however, even these items could be donated or eliminated from the race.

Possible costs of organizing a walk/run

T-shirts or custom bags shouldn’t cost more than $5 each. You can find a screen printer in your area to help you design a shirt.

Participants in a race generally pin a # to their shirts to identify them, especially if the race is being timed. You can purchase these from a running store or on-line for pennies.

A person to time the race can cost anywhere from $100 to several $100’s. It depends on who you can find in your area. Google “running clubs in [your town]” and ask them who they use.

Do I have to pay for things up front with my own money?

NO. You ask people to register and pay fees at least 1 month before your race. You use registration money to pay for upfront costs. GF is willing to give organizers a small amount of start-up money if necessary (contact the treasurer).

Who do participants make checks to and how do I handle the money?

The best way to handle this is to have checks made to GF, unless your regional group is an established non-profit and is actively supporting your event. You copy checks you receive for your records and then mail checks to the GF treasurer. If you need $ for event expenses, talk to the treasurer for assistance.

Steps to organize a walk/run

Establish where the walk/run will be and how far. A 5K (3.14 miles) is a popular race that will draw both walkers with no race experience and serious runners.

Map out a path that is the distance you choose (5K, etc.). You can use your car to do this by setting the odometer to a “new trip” and calculate as you go. Note: this is not a PERFECT way of measuring, but for a small race it will work. If you want exact measurements for a competitive race you can contact a running store or your local running club for help.

Contact the city (and possibly county) you want to host the race in to obtain permission, if needed.

Starting and ending in the same place is helpful. Make sure there are restroom facilities available. A church or school parking lot or the city park might be good options.

Water/Gatorade, bananas, granola bars/trail mix are generally available to runners after the race. Ask your local grocery store to donate and advertise their donation at your race.

Make sure there are a few manned “water stops” available along the race path. Runners may need to hydrate along the way. You can either offer coolers with bottles of water or cups being constantly filled and handed to participants. Make sure you have a garbage can ahead so bottles and cups can be thrown away.

Clearly mark your race route. You can use washable spray paint on the road (if it’s allowed by your city), signs, or volunteers to show participants which way to go. Volunteers should be lively and fun, cheering participants on, holding signs and offering assistance if needed. Volunteers on the path should have cell phones to communicate with “head quarters” or 911 in the case of an emergency (runner down or someone is just too tired and needs a ride back to base). Many cities will allow the use of a 4-wheeler to follow runners and watch for any problems.

Contact your local EMS/Fire department. Many EMS departments will be available at your run for emergencies or minor injuries. Contact your local police department. They may assist on the race path if you are crossing busy roads. Some departments may charge a fee.

Timing the race

Many participants will want to know the time it took them to run/walk the race. The easiest way to do this is to hire a “timer.” You can contact your local running club or specialty running store (locate them on the web) and ask who they use or if they have a member that will help (this can run anywhere from $100 to several $100). You can also time the race yourself with several volunteers and split/stop watches. One way to do this is to hand participants numbered index cards as they cross the finish line (the participant will write his name, etc. on the card and hand it in). The person timing the first 20 people will hit the split button every time someone crosses the finish line. After the first 20 participants cross the volunteer looks back at the times he recorded and matched the first time with the person who had the card with #1, the second time with #2 and so on. This works if you have a small # of participants (less than 100).


Create a simple registration (click here to see a sample from Grant’s Wish 5K).

Ask people to register early. You can do this by mail or if you are computer savvy you can do this through a website. Note: many regional groups have a website and may be able to help advertise your event and help you set up a registration that can be linked to GF’s PayPal account allowing participants to pay by credit card. The registration fee will go directly to GF. Contact your regional group or GF’s treasurer for details.

Race Waiver

Make sure you include a race waiver that will release you, your sponsors, city, state and PGC from any accidents that may occur. Click here to see an example.

Don’t be discouraged if your event doesn’t have hundreds of people – every bit of money helps. The more people that hear about your event – the more awareness there is about Galactosemia.


Participant bags – runners generally receive a participant bag that might include the # they pin to their shirt (you’ll need this if you are timing the race) and goodies like coupons, samples of food items, key chains, water bottles, etc. See what you can get donated from your local businesses or find free trinkets. For example, in IL the department of transportation will send you bumper stickers, key chains, bike tags, etc.

T-shirts – many races include a t-shirt including the race logo. You can purchase a simple shirt for about $5 from your local screen printing shop who will help you with the design. If you want to include shirts ask the size on your registration form and have a cut-off date at least a month before your race “includes T-shirt if registered by…” Order a few extra of popular sizes to sell at the race for a profit.