By Devin Trezise
There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of self-care in mainstream culture lately. Life gets busy, things are hectic, and what better way to deal with that than making sure you take a little time for yourself amidst the hustle and bustle? There’s an equivalent of that on event, something we call the pit stop.
A lot of the events we organize involve walking, running, or biking long distances. That can take a lot out of a person. Our participants tend to be very driven. They’ve spent months fundraising, educating themselves about the issues, talking to their friends and family, and training for the big event, and when that day comes, you’d better believe they’re ready to perform!
Pits stops provide a dual purpose on the route. Not only do they give folks the chance to stop, rehydrate, and rest a bit, but they can also be a ton of fun! They’re essential to the safety and smooth operation of any run, walk, or ride, but there’s no need for them to be bare-bones or utilitarian. Here are some tips for crafting both the perfect pit stop and the perfect pit-stop experience for your event:
1) Make it accessible. Nobody wants to stop at the top of a hill, across a busy road, or too far off the course. Make your pit stop easy to get to, preferably a part of the route participants will be traversing anyway.
2) Make it visible. It might seem obvious to you that your pit stop is set up for participants, but often, someone who’s been walking for 15 miles straight, or biking for 75, is so in the zone that unless your rest area jumps out to them, they’ll breeze on by. Make sure there are plenty of signs, banners, bright road cones, and markers leading up to your pit stop. Bonus points if you can motivate them with inspirational phrases and quotes along the way!
3) Keep it well stocked. There’s nothing worse than looking forward to resting your weary legs for miles on end, only to arrive at a pit stop that has nowhere to sit. Or imagine anticipating a nice, ice cold cup of Gatorade awaiting you and only finding tepid water and no containers. Envision that you are participating in your own event when you’re stocking your pit stop. What would you want? Energy boosting snacks like trail mix, orange slices, cookies, and salty chips and crackers are ideal, as are replenishing drinks such as vitamin water or Gatorade. Ensure that you are keeping a well-stocked supply of fresh snacks and cold drinks with the proper serving provisions. And of course, double check that you are following all health codes while storing and handing out these tasty treats!
4) Stay organized. This is crucial. If you’re setting up a pit stop on the go, you want to make sure it’s easy to unload, easy to run, and easy to pack up and move out once everyone is through. This requires advance planning. What supplies will you have to load in the space you have in your vehicle? What things will you have to have dropped at your pit stop in advance (think garbage disposal, porta johns, etc.)? What permits will you have to fill out and have approved beforehand? Proper planning and good organization make set up and tear down a breeze.
5) Make it fun! A boring pit stop is a forgettable pit stop, and your event is anything but forgettable. Encourage your staff and volunteers at each pit stop to have fun with it. Bring decorations, make it 80’s themed, blast some music on a portable speaker, create photo opportunities, step up the energy and cheer your participants in. Give your pit stop your own personal touch. Your goal at the end of the day is not only to care for the people making your event happen, but to treat them to a memorable, fun, and overall VIP experience. A fun pit stop lets your participants know you love what you do, you’re doing it for them, and they’re special for making everything come together.
And there you have it, the perfect pit stop. There are lots of opportunities to get creative if you’ve got multiple pits throughout your event course. Now go out there and put the “fun” in “functional” at your event’s pit stop!
Devin is the resident Chicago Office Coordinator at Event 360. He has also taken on roles in merchandise sales at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walks and MuckFest MS as well as registration at the DAV 5K and Chef’s Cycle events. When he’s not keeping the office in shape, you’ll either find Devin out and about exploring the many Chicago neighborhoods or back in his home state of Wisconsin enjoying the great outdoors.