Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Half Marathons - Recommendations for Half Marathons to Improve Online Presence

The most up to date, complete and accurate listing of half marathons on the web is the Halfmarathonsearch.com half marathon calendar, featuring search by state and search by month capabilities for runners. The calendar also features a symbol for trail running half marathon events, and has been working on implementing walker friendly symbols throughout the calendar, which will continue to roll out through 2014. The walker friendly races adhere to the new standard in the half marathon industry, supporting a 4 hour / 18:32 minute mile minimum to be officially considered walker friendly.  The races must be fully supported the full minimum of 4 hours, including the same road support and aid station support that the fast runners receive, to be “official walker friendly”.

While there is still continued growth in half marathons across the USA, there were also a good number of half marathons that were cancelled, and some discontinued for 2014.  There are also still a fair amount of half marathons that fail to update their upcoming half marathon dates in an acceptable time frame prior to the race, however great improvements have been observed rolling into 2014.

Areas of which some half marathon race directors could improve with online presence (half marathon websites) are: 1) updating half marathon event dates close to a year ahead; 2) making sure the half marathon is listed on the home page if it is an addition to a marathon event; 3) listing the full date with the year fully visible, so runners and calendars can decipher if it is the old date or new date; 4) listing the “day” of the event is helpful (such as Saturday or Sunday); 5) Listing the city and state, clearly on the home page; 6) Listing an address to the event so out of state travelers can use GPS; 7) Submitting event date immediately to online half marathon calendars when date is identified; 8) Don’t change link annually, only change the information on the page (having ONE link or website that remains the SAME annually is important. 9) Clearly identify on home page if event is walker friendly of 4 hours or longer to finish; 10) Do not take your event page down when it is over, similar to #8, there is nothing worse than clicking on a site and no information exists any longer; 11) Make sure to have a link on website to Facebook page (make sure it’s a Facebook page and not a Facebook event, and not a Facebook group.  Races should have a Facebook PAGE to build community); 10) Support local and national running clubs such as Fifty States Half Marathon Club, that support the half marathon running community. It will go a long way having that camaraderie and support for your event. Providing a discount may draw in runners from out of state that may not otherwise have even seen or heard of your event, or considered traveling to your event.

Many races do not take into consideration details, especially for out of state runners and for walkers, and checking off the above list of items can improve presence, and draw in a bigger following of runners.