So there you are.

A race promoter looking to launch your first off-road race.

Maybe you started off as an off-road racer yourself but noticed that not too many people were creating the type of races you would like to race in.

Or maybe you’re just interested in bringing off-road racing to your community but do not know where to start.

Regardless of your intentions, one of the primary goals you need to achieve is to successfully sell your event by getting the word out to everyone you can.

But to do this, you need to go to where your customers are.

Often, the list will include those that socially ride the park you’re planning your race at.

However, when you’re first starting out, you need to include local clubs, organizations, and businesses too.

#1 – Sell to your Contact List

It should also detail who you believe your target customer to be.

This means you should probably know a little about your riders by going to where you know they hang out and asking them questions (or using a survey).

You need to find out where they like to eat, where they shop, what they buy, and then go find those businesses, become their partners, and get them to become sponsors.

#2 – Sell to your Community Organizations

It may not seem like a secret, but one of the best methods for advertising your race will come the old fashioned way — word of mouth!

Most hardcore racers know each other and often talk about which races they will and will not be racing in during the season.

Find out who the hardcore racers are in your area.


Because these athletes are always on the trails, in the bike shops, or talking to new riders.

Many race promoters have been able to sell out their events by using the racing community as their only means of advertising.

By simply leveraging the existing community of riders as your own “street team” you can get the word out about your race long before anyone sees an ad or finds your site online.

The biggest advantage of getting word of mouth to work for your event is that a person that people trust will be telling other potential racers about your race.

This is something an ad could never hope to do.

That extra level of validity provided by the word of mouth of a trusted messenger is often enough to get people to show up.

The more trust you can create in the community will directly relate to a number of riders you will get to attend.

This could include convincing any of the local organizations that maintain trails too.

If you come out to a trail day, you are sure to get a chance to talk to more potential racers.

They also get a chance to meet you, see your stewardship of the trails first hand, and make a connection between you and your race.

You cannot buy this kind of advertising, but it only works if you are sincere about working first and promoting second.

#3 – Sell to your Local Businesses

Your local racers shop in the same stores as you do.

Do you know which ones those are?

If you’re just starting out, your target list might include every company within a 20-mile radius.

How do you contact each one of those companies and ask if they would like to sponsor your race?

Easy. You start at first one, closest to your venue, and work out from there.

You’re going to find out — very quickly — which business are big chains that have strict policies about who they promote, and which are small, mama and pa business that want to participate.

It might not be much.

Maybe it’s a $100 of free, premium coffee, or gift certificates for 20-percent off their next purchase.

But each connection represents a potential new source of customers.

They might not have much to give you in the way of sponsorships, but they can help you by telling their customers about being part of your race.

Imagine a small business with a 1,000 person content list, telling everyone they know how your race will feature a limited-time coupon.

That is 1,000 people you would have never been able to find any other way.

#4 – Sell to your Local Sports Clubs

Another angle could be having your race promotion company sponsor someone else’s race or even a local racing team.

You might be thinking that sponsoring another race sounds like you’re supporting a competitor.

However, the goal would be to target a promoter that is NOT a competitor.

If you hold trail races, partner up with a 5K pavement promoter.

Doing a lot of mountain bike events?

Find those Tour De Whatever racers or even a Cyclocross race, and make some new friends.

There is plenty of opportunities to get your name out there by investing in other community sports.

Having your company name as the “presented by” part to another event could help you get noticed.

Collegiate sponsorship is another great way to work with local clubs AND a major university.

Club sports never have enough money to do everything they want.

If you become a title sponsor of a university team, college students can become another street team for your own events.

Some clubs will be so ecstatic that you cared about supporting their club, that they will most likely help you put on your own events for being their benefactor.

Having the university or college as an interested party can also benefit you in other ways too.

Most higher learning campuses have newspapers that could be a great source for advertisements.

But they could also be a great source for stories about how you are supporting one of their sports clubs.

Nothing like word-of-mouth advertising AND volunteers to make it worth your time to invest in underserved races or sports clubs.

Selling your race never ends

These are just a few tactics you can use to find your customers.

When you’re first starting out, finding where your customers are can be tough.

However, over time and interaction between your racers, you will start to collect enough information about them to know exactly which business you should be targeting.

If you maintain that one of your primary goals is to successfully sell your event by getting the word out to everyone you can, then anytime you get the chance to share your upcoming race with a fellow racer will be considered a win.

And now you know.

Posted by Kyle Bondo

Kyle started Reckoneer with the simple mission of helping those who want to become race directors and learn the mechanics of outdoor recreation engineering. Kyle demystifies outdoor racing with over 20 years of endurance and outdoor industry business knowledge. Combined with his top-rated podcast Merchants of Dirt, dozens of articles, lessons, and infographics, Kyle has made Reckoneer the premier educator in outdoor event management. Build better races today!