by Cheryl Knight
Last month I covered choosing the roads for your run. So, let’s assume you have a general idea of the area or roads you want on your run and perhaps you have a destination in mind too. What else do you need to do before you map out the run? For me, these are the key considerations:
- Starting location and time
- Where and when to include the Pit Stops (rest stops, breaks, re-fueling stops, etc.)
- Choosing and working with venues
STARTING LOCATION AND TIME
Suggestions for a starting location include choosing a place that can accommodate a lineup of Miatas without impeding the flow of traffic at the business. We don’t want to make them mad at the Miatas! It is also good for the location to have restrooms – some club members may have to drive an hour or more just to reach the starting point. An option of buying refreshments at the location or right near where the cars are lining up is also appreciated. It isn’t critical to start at a gas station; however, if you don’t, be sure that information is included in your communication so people will know to gas up prior to arriving. MOST HELPFUL: In your communications, be sure to include a street address and other landmark information for your starting location, i.e. The Walgreens at 16485 Walzem Rd. in east San Antonio next to the Waffle House (I made this up).
The starting time is determined by several factors. I always work backwards from the time I want to arrive at the venue, how long the driving will take to get there and how long the rest stops will be. That helps me arrive at the “Go” or departure time. You always want to include a “Show” time and a “Go” time. The “Show” time should be the time that you will be there to greet your attendees and ensure the cars line up where you intend. Then, socializing happens until a few minutes before your “Go” time when you hold your Drivers Meeting (I’ll address this next month), after which you “Go”.
There is no ideal “Show” and “Go” time. That’s up to you. The club is comprised of both early and late risers, so often you will get a different crowd when you start early than if you start later in the morning or even later in the day.
This one is simple: include a pit stop every 45 minutes to 1 hour. Must haves are: restrooms, drink and food availability, and an option for gas is always nice. Roadside Parks or Highway Rest Stops work too. If your run isn’t real long and you had an option for gas at the beginning (and told everyone there are no fuel stops on the run OR at least one of your pit stops has gas) gas isn’t necessary at every stop. Fun pit stops are great – we’ve gone several times to the New Canaan Farms Store and an Olive Oil Store for pit stops and received great feedback from the attendees as well as the businesses. A few years ago, we played a game at a pit stop during our Sadie Hawkins Run. As I recall, Freda Treat won!
It is also not uncommon to have to go a bit out of your way and perhaps backtrack to include a pit stop. There aren’t always locations convenient to your route. The length for the pit stop depends on how many attendees, how many restroom stalls and how much time you need to allow arriving at your venue on time. Twenty to 30 minutes is generally sufficient.
The nature of your venue is up to you. We’ve traveled to see a bridge, school houses, churches, scenic locations, adventure activities, kite flying, toured wineries and breweries, etc. Either before, after or during: we eat. You may want to host a “picnic” run where you advise attendees to pack a lunch. Or your destination may be the restaurant. Whatever you are inspired to do, do it.
Due to the size of our groups, it is critical to include the venue in your planning process. Questions to ask: can they accommodate a group of anywhere from 15 to 50? Where would they seat the group? Can they handle separate checks? What is the best time to arrive? Just make sure they know we are coming and at the start of the run, give them a call with a final headcount.
Some places I’ve tried to work with just cannot handle large groups. Other restaurants have said yes, then we experienced slow service and many mistakes. I’ve found that buffet options like many BBQ restaurants work well. So do places that are used to large lunch crowds and are your typical blue plate special type of diners. The nicer places may want a reservation which means you must collect RSVPs ahead of time. This just means a bit more work and record keeping for you. Hamburger places work well too.
When it comes to venues, the sky’s the limit. On one trip to Wimberley, we had a small group go zip-lining while the rest of the group went shopping in town, then we met at the restaurant at a designated time. Food truck parks are fun and provide lots of options. There have also been some very nice restaurants, i.e. French Chef pre-defined menu at $35pp. And a lot of people attended. So, do what you are inspired to do… and they will come!