Feedback from Deschutes River 50K & 25K

After finishing the Deschutes River 50 & 25K, we asked all participants and volunteers for feedback. We wanted anything — good or bad, constructive or complementary. We also said we would share it with the rest of the community, so here it is (anonymized). If you gave us feedback, thank you so much.

Let’s start with shirts. We wanted to surprise runners with an event t-shirt, so we didn’t ask for individual sizes through UltraSignup. Therefore, we made an assumption on the number of each shirt size. We assumed wrong…

“I was curious how I would go about getting an XL race shirt from the Deschutes River 50K?”

This was a particularly dumb issue for us considering, I, Colin, switch between L and XL shirt sizes myself, and spend a good amount of time running trails of my own. We know for next time — more XL shirts. We also had a couple runners say they’d rather pay for a nice, technical race shirt. Going forward, for most of our races, we’ll offer a few shirt options during the registration process.

While planning the Deschutes River races, we never let it slip our minds that what we were trying to do was put great runners on great trails, with a local vibe, and produce for them a great experience all-around. While the event didn’t go off without a hitch, it’s safe to say the vast majority of runners had a smile on their faces both before and after the race.

“I’m new to running and certainly organized events but I really enjoyed the event. I had a great time and the feeling at both the start and finish was so positive and happy. I was surrounded by strangers but felt love and family. Hard to explain how a shared challenging experience can bring people together so quickly.”

Denis and I were both elated to get this feedback, and will strive to provide this “feeling” for each and every event that we host.

We even got feedback from locals who weren’t participating in our event directly.

“...I live in Bend, Oregon and went for a run with a friend of mine and my dog along the Deschutes River Trail this morning. At one point, I had seen your race posted on Facebook and thought, what a bummer…”

As trail runners, we’re very often on public lands, using trails shared by many. In addition, our events are often on those same public lands. We had the intent of making the race as unobtrusive as possible. This meant limiting participant numbers, starting and finishing on private land, prohibiting spectators on the course, observing USFS and COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance) guidelines, and passing those same intentions on to our participants and volunteers. We were disappointed to hear that our event adversely impacted other folks that day.

Lesson learned: we should have over-emphasized the shared nature of the Deschutes River Trail — an extremely popular trail — during the pre-race brief. Furthermore, we could have done more to make others feel like the event was an extended celebration of the Bend community itself: a community of fantastic trails, fantastic runners, and fantastic local vendors. This is now on the forefront of our thoughts when planning future events.

Here are a few other common feedback topics:

  • Aid stations had more to offer than a Vegas buffet — Happy to hear it. We expected you all to eat more gummy bears, though.

  • Course/trail markings were inconsistent — We marked the course the day before but, unfortunately, still succumbed to the efforts of trail vandalism. Again, we are sorry, and we’ve got some ideas for next time.

  • Trash bags were too small for the trash cans — This one came from our volunteers. It sounds minor until you have trash and recycling from five aid stations.

  • “So, is there an events ceremony?” —While we had planned (and did) announce the winners of our various accolades toward the end of the day, we weren’t very clear on when/where that would be. We apologize, and will provide better context next time.

Here are a few other things we’re working on:

  • More robust tracking/timing system — We know Aunt Judy wants to see how you’re doing mid-race. We’re putting that together for her.

  • You name it, we’ll look into it — We haven’t defined a “mission statement” because this is a passion project for Denis and me, but if there was one, it would be something like “To host the most exciting, interesting, satisfying, and darn pretty races possible.” We should probably sprinkle “challenging” in there, too (our 2019 lineup will be posted soon), but we intend to keep that unofficial slogan for awhile, so if we miss something, let us know what can make our races more exciting, interesting, satisfying or darn pretty.

Colin OverlandComment