5 Steps For Choosing The Perfect Race Route

If you’re organizing a race, of course you need a route!

What might not be so obvious, though, are the little things that could end up making or breaking whether or not racers have the best experience possible. We’ve compiled the top-5 “off the beaten path” steps to help ensure your route contributes to your run’s success!


  • Determine your audience – The first step is to figure out what type of runners you’re targeting. Is it a family fun run, a run that you can bring along your dog, or do you want to attract racers trying to set PR’s? Determining this will not only help you narrow in on the most effective marketing campaigns, but also provide useful context when choosing the route.
  • Make a list of the “must haves” – You know your audience. Now, put yourself in their shoes. What type of route would make them excited to sign-up? For example, if it’s a fun run, make sure to incorporate nice scenery or a route that goes through the city/town. If you’re trying to attract more competitive runners, make sure that the route is accessible – you won’t be able to get away with a route that isn’t 100% closed off to runners. Other “must haves” may include:
    • Route that includes lots of trash cans (if dog friendly
    • Route that includes a loop or easy way to break it into a smaller distance, if you’re planning to have a 1 mile, 5K, and 10K.
    • Smooth terrain if attracting kids or parents pushing strollers.
  • Start experimenting with routes – Once you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to start experimenting! There are free tools online (RaceEntry, PlotARoute) that can help you start mapping out possible paths. Don’t forget about public parks that have designated running/walking paths/trails!
  • Take ‘em on a test run – Choose your top few routes and try them out! Nothing beats actually experiencing how the route flows. You may find out that the route uses a road that is going to be too busy, or the hills are a little too challenging for your audience.
  • Choose the best one – Hopefully you have a clear winner, but if not, don’t forget to consider things like distance from where your racers are going to be coming from, parking accommodations and amount of space for spectators.


There you have it! Easy peasy, I hope! Now that you have your route, it’s time to start promoting the race! If you need help recruiting and managing volunteers, we can help! Our platform makes it so seamless that you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.


We’d love to hear from you! What considerations are most important to you when choosing a route?




Julie Kent

Julie is a staff writer at VolunteerLocal. She enjoys living by the mountains, binging on Netflix, and volunteering.