Safe Group Run Guidelines
Organizing and leading a group run is an important responsibility and some planning efforts can help ensure the safety of everyone on the run.
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- Verify Insurance Coverage: The run leader should contact their club’s RRCA point person or the RRCA to ensure that their RRCA membership is up to date and the insurance premium has been paid for the year. Do not assume the liability for leading a group run if your club, shoe store, or training program is not adequately insured, or your dues (insurance) with the RRCA are not paid in full.
- Get CPR/FA Certified: The run leader should have current CPR and First Aid certifications. This person should also keep a club owned general first aid kit in their car.
- Check with local authorities: If your group run is very large and/or it is run on a multi-use trail or road, a permit may be required, especially if the group exceeds 25+ people.
- Map Your Route: The run leader should map out the route(s). You can share them with the group in advance using a service like Strava, Garman, Google Maps, etc.
- Clearly outline the distance(s) for the group run: If your group is doing a 20 miler, can the run be broken down into a 5-miler, a 10-miler, etc for people that want to join the group but not go the full distance?
- Establish pace groups: Recruit pace leaders to help lead the group and outline the paces. Pace groups may also allow you to split up the larger group and potentially avoid the need for a permit.
- Identify a sweeper: The group leader should recruit a few people willing to run at the back of the pack to ensure no one gets left behind or falls behind due to a medical emergency. The sweeper should carry a phone on the run to use if an emergency arises.
- Promote your run: Share information about regular or special group runs on the club website and social media. Share reminders about what to expect at the group run.
- Share Run Rules: Remember you are leading the run and assuming responsibility for the group’s well being. Some basics: Stick to the designated route. No headphones. No dogs. Do not run more than two abreast, especially on busy roads, sidewalks, or trails. Be mindful of language and conversation content, don't create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the group.
Leading Your Group Run
- Have everyone sign-in before you head out: Collecting information about who is in the group is an important risk management effort. Utilize a QR code that people can scan to be directed to a sign-in form. The form should have the waiver along with emergency contact information. Going old-school, a paper sign-in form with a waiver works, too.
- Welcome new members and guests: Ask if anyone is new to the group run or if they are a guest. Make sure guests sign-in as well. Capturing their information can help with membership recruitement. Help them identify their pace group.
- Provide clear instructions to the group: Outline the route, the various paces for the group, if there is a turn-around point, the terrain or weather concerns, any hydration support (is water provided or should participants bring their own?), etc.
- Remind everyone about the Run Rules: During the run remind people not to run more than two abreast. If someone makes offensive comments, tactfully speak with them about the club's code of conduct or make a mental note to address a concern with the club board.
- Obey all traffic signs: The group leader and pace leaders should NEVER run the group against a light or through a stop sign. Mid-sections of a group tend to ignore traffic signals while following the front of the pack. This has been the number one reason why people get hit by cars on group runs.
- Use sidewalks and trails: If you need to lead your group run on a road, face traffic and run no more than two abreast. This will allow oncoming motorist to see the group as opposed to driving upon the back of the pack.
- Leave no one behind: Remind people to stick together if someone has to take a break. If someone isn't feeling well on the run check in with them and assist them if they need medical attention. Cardiac emergencies have occured during group runs. Lives have been saved, because someone held back with another runner "not feeling it." Watch for signs of leaning, slurred speech and spontaneous stumbling, this could signify a stroke.
- Hang out a bit post-run: Most health related problems such as heat stroke or heart attacks tend to occur in the down-time immediately following a long group run.
- Plan a brunch or Happy Hour: Consider a post-run brunch or Happy Hour. After all, your members say the number one reason they joined the club was for the social aspect.