In this feature by Limelight sports we meet Sarah Usher, who has been the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon race director since the inaugural race in 2008! She answers a series of question about what being a race director really means...
What does being a race director mean?
In a snapshot it means that you are responsible for the overall delivery of the race element of the event. A slightly longer answer would include the fact that pre-event you are responsible for the overall design of the course, including the marshalling, the positioning of all logistical race elements such as signage, infrastructure, zoning, water and energy stations, medical points etc.
You work with the stakeholders with regards to the course and you are part of the team that works on the road closures, although this is not necessarily your overall responsibility. On the day you are the main hub of communication for all race supervisors including the start and finish line. Fundamentally, my key role is to ensure the safety of all runners and that they have the best running experience possible.
What does race day look like for you?
This depends on the start time of the race, however the basic timetable would run in the same way;
· 4 or 5 hours before race start physically drive or ride the course.
· 3 or 4 hours pre-race communicate with all supervisors any final notes and instructions following course drive.
· 3 hours pre-race join event control and note any requirements for actions on the course.
· 3 – 1 hour pre-race get updates from team on course setting, infrastructure and marshal and medical deployment.
· 1 hour to 15 mins pre-race regimented course checks including health and safety approval for course safety.
· Start the race ON TIME!
From the start of the race my role is to ensure clear communication from the ground and my supervisors to event control and all functions that either require information or actions. I will have full visibility of where the lead and last runners are to ensure that we are looking after all of our runners
My day continues after all our runners are home in terms of any follow up actions for incidents that may have occurred on the course or information that I need to gather for reporting
Finally, the immediate debrief with the team on site before final thank yous!
What's your favourite part of the Royal Parks Half?
My favourite section of the Royal Parks Route is the Kensington Gardens section. I love that whole area but running down the centre of the Gardens towards the Prince Albert Memorial is amazing, so beautiful.
Have you run the Royal Parks Half before?
I have never taken part in the race as I have been in my role as race director since the inaugural event in 2008. However, I always run the course at least once (if not twice) before event day and walk it two or three times in the build up to ensure that there are no changes that I need to make or alterations to my briefings. I think it is really important to put myself in the place of the runner so I can see what they will see, feel the inclines and surface changes etc.
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