Most of us know the advantages of being active and spending time outside. Benefits included improving physical and mental health, developing motor skills, and life lion positive fitness habits. But these are lessons that we have to learn. With trail running being a great way to teach and promote outdoor fitness amongst students. That said, knowing how to plan a school trail run can take a bit of a learning curve. So to better help you and your school put on a better event, I’ve created a list of everything you will need to have a successful day out on the trails for you and your school.
How to Plan a School Trail Run
Below is a quick checklist to follow on how to plan a school trail run. Followed by a more in depth explanation for each below.
- Choose a Location
- Plan a Route
- Get Permits – if needed
- Set a Date and Time
- Recruit Volunteers and Staff
- Safety Plan
- Promote the Event
- Run the Event
- Clean Up
Choose a Location
First you are going to need to find a suitable location for your run. Important factors include distance people will have to travel, distance of the trail run, terrain, parking, and restrooms. Often local city parks are happy to hold local events for a small fee or donation. State parks will also often have larger community shelters you can rent, and a small system for holding small events. And typically have the parking and restrooms needed to host a school trail run.
Ask About Issuance Requirements
Depending on the location and size, you may need insurance to host your trail run. For smaller events this is very affordable. And often asking for donations from runners or their guardians to cover this cost is a reasonable request.
Plan the Route for Your School One
After you find a location, it’s time to plan your route. It’s best to use well worn and marked trails. Checking to make the terrain is suitable for the age group you are looking to take running. Things like elevation gain, loss, river / creek crossings are all things to take into account. Depending on the distance you may also want to include places for water and crew access. Making sure the venue has all of the amenities you need.
Get Permits if Needed – For Larger Groups
Once you have your route planned, if you are charging an entrance or are going to have over 30+ people for a run at “local or state park”, you may need a permit. It’s good to check. If you are doing this on private land, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this.
Set a Date and Time
Now that you have a location and route, it’s time to set a date. Make sure the date doesn’t conflict with any other school events. Will work with any staff or volunteers. And it’s always advised to take into account historical weather trends for the date. While we can’t predict the weather, we can make an educated guess.
Recruit Volunteers and Staff
One of the most important parts of any school event is having good volunteers. If it’s a small group run, you may just need a few drivers and a couple people to run with the group. If it’s a larger event you will need things like people to mark the course, clean the course, hand out water, registration etc. Reaching out to the parents and trail running community is a great way to get volunteers. RUnners in general tend to be great about giving their time to help events.
Have a Safety Plan
Having a plan that includes knowing where you will have cell phone reception, who the local emergency service is, having their number on hand, potentially letting them know in advance you are holding the event, and having a basic first aid kit are all a must. If one of your volunteers has medical experience even better. This research doesn’t take a lot of time, but could save someone’s life.
Promote the Event
Now that everything’s coming together, it’s time to get the word out. Things like the typical in school announcements, flyers, and social media, are all great ways to build awareness no matter the size of the school trail run.
Choose a Signup System – Optional
Depending on the size of the run, you may want to have people sign up. You can do this through email, by setting up a simple online form, or using one of the many websites that offer options.
Waivers – Optional
You may also need waivers for your event based on the insurance requirements.
Run the Event
Make sure to enjoy the day. But the event does not come without responsibility. Make sure to put your volunteers in the best position for success and keep safety as the first concern. Getting everyone one home safe should be goal one, goal two is getting everyone across the finish line.
No trail run is finished until you have done your best to leave no trace. Putting on a trail run that means cleaning the start and finish area, removing and trail flagging, and making sure any trash from the runners is picked up. The last two are usually done by a volunteer “sweeper” that follows the run.
Celebrate a Job Well Done!
Make sure to celebrate your school’s trail running accomplishment. This will help encourage your schools and students to keep running and hopefully participate in another trail running event.