Dear Race Directors,
You want to bring in fast runners to get some exposure for your race. You decide to offer prize money. Great. Believe me, I love prize money. For sub-elite runners, those smaller prize purses can really help offset race entries and travel costs. And by being able to afford to race reputable races, runners can build their resumes, which helps with sponsorships and getting into even bigger races.
But if you’re going to offer prize money, you gotta do it right.
First, write the checks the day of the event. You don’t have to do this, but it is preferred. If you want to gain a good reputation, this is the best practice, especially for a smaller race.
Not all races do this, for various reasons. I get that. But like with any business transaction — because in reality, that’s what this is — you should pay your invoices on time. I think two weeks is an acceptable amount of time for a local road race.
Notification in advance (like the Mill Race Marathon does) or at the awards ceremony is appreciated if the check is, as they say, in the mail.
For a larger race, 90 days is perfectly acceptable. There are drug testing protocols, and those things take time. For example, I ran the BAA 5k in early April and received a gift card in the mail for winning my age group. The gift card arrived in early July. Usually larger races mail out medals and other prizes to age group winners, and I’ve always received those awards within 90 days.
And, even smaller races (see Mill Race, above) are stepping up their anti-doping game. That’s great news!
But, it is never okay to take 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, or more to mail out a check to your winners. If a runner has to write multiple emails or take to social media to get their money, you’re doing it wrong. And if you really mess up, you could go viral for the wrong reasons.
One race director asked runners to give their prize money back when he made a mistake, and the LetsRun trolls got ahold of the story. Eventually, he changed his mind and made up the difference with $9,500 of his own money. This is an extreme case, of course.
The road goes both ways, of course. There’s an etiquette for the runners, too. If you receive a complimentary entry to a race, it’s a good idea to formally write a thank you note or email. The same goes for if you win prize money, or if you just enjoyed the event. You don’t have to, but it’s a nice thing to do, and can’t you hear your grandmother now? You can also write a note or review on the event’s Facebook page or other social media outlets — they’ll definitely appreciate that!
If you’ve had a bad experience or good experience at a race, whether with prize money or otherwise, let’s hear it.
I’ll start. Freihofer’s Run for Women, you are a prestigious event, but as of September 20, 2017, you owe me $400.