Every race director has this fear: unforeseen circumstances arise and the race they’ve spent months planning might need to be cancelled. It’s not an easy call to make, but there are a few things than can make the process easier on you, your staff, your volunteers and participants. In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we lay out our best advice for when and how to cancel a race.
When To Cancel a Charity 5K or Other Race
Every race is different. The decision to cancel a race is ultimately going to be up to you, but there are some specific circumstances that should raise red flags in any organizer’s mind and bring about the discussion of cancellation.
There are safety concerns.
This is number one for a reason. If there is any doubt to the safety of your participants or staff, you should cancel your race. Safety threats due to include inclement weather (extreme heat, low visibility, poor road conditions, etc.) should be avoided at all costs.
Lightning is grounds for immediate cancellation or postponement—this is standard practice at all sporting events and especially important for the person operating timing equipment attached to big antennas. High winds might not sound extreme, but they can be deadly if trees along the route fall. Local experts, police, and fire & rescue can help you make this decision.
We’d actually consider this a safety concern, but it deserves its own mention. If you’re short a significant number of volunteers or paid staff members, you won’t be able to guarantee a positive experience for your runners. With fewer capable hands on the premises, the likelihood of accidents increases.
You’re unable to fulfill basic promises.
Remember Fyre Fest? If you are under-equipped to provide the basic experience you promised, cancelling or postponing the race is going to have a much better outcome than going through with it and under delivering. For example, if the selling point of your race is a beer garden at the end, and you haven’t managed to secure any beer in time, your participants will not “let it slide.” You’re going to need a plan B.
You’re violating local laws.
This may seem obvious, but we’ve encountered several races recently where local government may provide verbal approval for a race to take place, only to go back on that approval when the time comes. If you’re stuck in this very unfortunate situation or one like it, you’ll need to cancel or postpone your race.
Need Race Management Advice?
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss how to go about cancelling a 5K fundraiser and what precautions to take even before the question of cancelling arises (like purchasing event cancellation insurance). Until then, feel free to reach out with your race organization questions. We provide race timing and so much moreto charity races in PA, NJ and DE!