We have a series of Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignup users. This Healthy Kids Running Series Case Study focuses on setting up a Running Series within RunSignup, and preparing Community Coordinators to succeed.
Healthy Kids Running Series and RunSignup
The Healthy Kids Running Series is moving to RunSignup for the 2015 season. We take a look at how their Headquarters handles setting up 100+ races and how individual Community Coordinators incorporate the Running Series within their communities.
Healthy Kids Overview
Healthy Kids Running Series was started in West Chester, PA in 2009 by Jeff Long & Scott Ely of Pattison Sports Group as a way to get local kids involved with running. The feedback for the program was so huge that kids were traveling from an hour away to participate. PSG decided to expand and franchise the program to grow participation nationally while maintaining the local, community aspects. Today, HKRS is in 20 states and is continually growing into new communities.
The program is a 5-week series of community kids races, including a 50-yard dash (pre-K), a 1/4 mile (K-1st), a half mile (2nd & 3rd), and a mile run (4th-8th Grade).
The franchise program is free but reliant on finding community-minded parents, running stores, or leaders who want to host kids races but can benefit from the Race-in-a-Box” structure of the Healthy Kids Running Series Model.
“There is a Little League in every town. Why can’t there be a kids running program in every town?” – Scott Ely, VP, Operations
Healthy Kids Running Series is switching to RunSignup for their Turnkey Registration Services. The key points driving the move to RunSignup:
- Copy Race: Because there is a set structure to the program, the ability to Copy a Race makes race setup easy for both Healthy Kids, and the individual Coordinators. Tamara Virtue, the Healthy Kids Running Series Director and liaison for Community Coordinators, will setup a single race for each Community Coordinator and will only need to make a few minor adjustments for dates, times, etc.
- Access Sharing: While Tamara sets up each race to ensure it is done correctly, it is important that each Community Coordinator also have access to all their race information. Coordinators need to email participants, have access to registrations, and know who their participants are.
- Customer Service: For Tamara, Customer Service – the fact that RunSignup is able to answer questions via phone or in person was a major factor in the decision to switch.
To manage each Series, all with registration opening on the same day, Healthy Kids Director Tamara Virtue first set up one race on RunSignup, and then used the “Copy Race” function to copy settings to each of the Series. Each race will still need to be checked for detailed accuracy, but Tamara will not have to create each race from scratch.
A few Key Points in the Healthy Kids Setup:
The “Race” consists of all events at a specific Community Location.
The “Events” are each Age Category within the Race: Pre-K, K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, Middle School.
Kids registered for their “event” are registered for the entire 5-Week Series, not registered for each week one at a time. One interesting note is that kids can register for the program ahead of time, but they can also register for the program once it is under-way, up until the 3rd week.
To accomplish that, Tamara edits the Basic Info on the Wizard so that the Start Time is the day and time of the first race, and the End Time is the day and time of the third race. This will allow participants to register throughout the first few weeks of the program.
Once each race is setup with their own unique registration link, the registration will be available through the (provided) webpage for each location. Additionally, the Coordinator for that location will be granted access (under the Dashboard -> Race -> Secure Access/Info Sharing) to view and manage their participant information.
For Race-Day registrations, the Coordinators collect paper registrations from new participants, and mail them to headquarters for manual imports. This eliminates any concern for race day technology, and since kids register for the Series, not the specific day, there is no urgency to getting the kids imported immediately.
A Coordinator’s Perspective
The Online Registration may be set up by Tamara at headquarters, but for Healthy Kids Running Series to work, it requires dedicated, community-oriented Coordinators on the ground. We took a look at two Healthy Kids Coordinators: Who they are, how they got involved, and what it is like to organize a Healthy Kids Running Series.
Amy: Andover, MA
Getting Started: A Stay at Home Mom, previous school volunteer, and a runner, Amy found Healthy Kids on google when looking for a part time job. Her first Series was in Spring 2014.
Ellen: Chandler, AZ
Getting Started: Ellen saw a flyer for Healthy Kids in her Race Bag at the 2014 Boston Marathon. A previous volunteer coach at her daughter’s elementary school, it seemed like a good way to use her love of running to help others. Fall 2014 was her first series.
Amy on Location: Finding the location was harder for Amy than anticipated, as all the school fields in her area were booked for other groups. She worked with a local conservation group to secure the use of a meadow, and they have been happy to partner with her.
Ellen on Location: Ellen easily secured a big enough location because it was owned by the company she works for.
Amy on Sponsors: Amy was a bit apprehensive about this task, but found it to be easier than she expected. She did have some phone conversations, but felt it was best to go in to places face to face to get them interested.
Ellen on Sponsors: Finding local sponsors was more of a challenge for Ellen. She found that a lot of people just did not respond to her requests; however, she did pull in some sponsors with persistence, and believes the success of her first year of Healthy Kid will help her in future years she already has a new Sponsor interested for Spring 2015.
Amy on Recruiting Participants: Amy found that it really helped to use her existing parent networks, and build off her previous years of Community involvement. Additionally, she posted a lot of flyers (at Churches, libraries, running store, etc.), as well as advertising in a free parents newsletter and posting to Patch.com.
Ellen on Recruiting Participants: Ellen’s two biggest fears were that she would not be able to recruit enough Volunteers, and that she would not have enough kids register to run. For Volunteers, she was able to pull a lot of help from family & friends, as well as from runners on a local Cross Country Team. From marketing to kids, Ellen relied a lot on word of mouth, email and Facebook promotion, while tapping into the local running community.
There were 200+ Chandler, AZ Participants in Fall 2014!
“I was really surprised and pleased by how professional the Headquarters office was. They are usually always available, and, if not, they are very quick to respond back given that they have over 60 Coordinators to manage.” – Amy, Andover Coordinator
Amy: Why Online Registration Matters – Amy loves regularly checking to see her numbers as they build, and needs easy access to monitor for misspellings or other registration errors.
Ellen: Why Online Registration Matters – Ellen wants to keep up with a summary of registration information, how many have registered that day, and registration by gender/division. She also uses DOB to allow her to give Happy Birthdays to her participants.
“Moving forward, the Challenge remains getting to kids who are not already from a sporty family – I think the schools will be the key to that. But I freaking LOVE it! I would do it full time if I could.” Ellen
What Characteristics do Ellen & Amy recommend for a Healthy Kids Running Series Community Coordinator?
- Must be a Self-Starter
- Be familiar with volunteer work, and not just looking to make a ton of money for your efforts
- Be involved in your community, and have a network
- Love running, and be willing to give tips
- Be outgoing and have a lot of energy!
- Be organized and able to plan over a period of time
- Be able to find volunteers you trust for Race Day and be able to train and retain volunteers
- Be passionate about it – about running, kids and providing a community experience
- Be confident in front of children and adults
Interested in starting a Healthy Kids Running Series in your town? Healthy Kids is looking for more Community Coordinators – Stay at Home Parents, Working Parents, Community Volunteers, and Running Stores – for cities and towns around the country (and world!). Contact Tamara Virtue at 484-352-2729 or tamara-at-pattisonsportsgroup.com for more information!
If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small, email us…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!