Quick guide to planning a run

This post submitted by WCKCC Secretary Robert Novak


Planning a club run can seem overwhelming. With ten or more cars worth of people hanging on your every word, looking forward to a thrilling weekend of driving, there’s a lot to be considered before you load into your Sky or Solstice on Saturday morning.

But practically speaking, if you think about the run from the perspective of someone who wants to go, it’s pretty easy to figure out what needs to be done. In this post, I’ll look at some things to do when planning a club run, and by the end of it you’ll be ready to plan your own run!

0. Getting the information out

We’re going to look at five things you need to know to announce and host a run. Remember that some, if not all, of this information needs to get to your drivers before they show up at the start of the run (for example, you’ll probably want to tell them where to meet, before you expect them to meet).

Some coordinators will make a flyer to hand out, with routes, cell phone numbers for emergency, details like that… this is a great idea. You can put all the info we talk about below in that flyer and send it out electronically in advance, or hand one out on site at the start. It is most convenient for new run participants to have both, so they know what to expect ahead of time.

It’s also good to get information out as far ahead of time as possible. If it’s the day before the run and people don’t know where you’re going, they may not be as excited as if they knew ahead of time. For runs with overnight stays, people will want to get hotel reservations, babysitters, time off work, etc, and some of those can be more complicated on short notice as well. 

1. Starting and ending points

The run may have a fun name or time frame, but ultimately, people want to know where you’re starting and where you’re ending. Initially a rough estimate is fine (San Mateo to Big Sur, for example), but before the event, you’ll need to specify a starting address and time (Billy Bob’s Coffee at Hwy 92 and Smurf Drive in San Mateo, 8am, for example).

You’ll also need an ending location and rough time, so people know whether they need a hotel for the night or if they can head home after the event (McDonalds at the Walmart in San Luis Obispo, about 3pm, for example).

Be sure that your starting and ending points can handle up to 20 cars at once, in addition to usual traffic. Luckily, Saturday mornings are not the busiest times for coffee shops, but as part of your preparation you should do recon on the locations.

2. A route and a reason

Anyone can go for a drive, but you’ll have a more popular run if you find a route that is interesting for a roadster driver. Scenic views, winding roads, the summer home of the original Kappa designer… these sorts of things seem obvious but they can add to the appeal of your event.

We’ve done runs where there was a historic theme, or a destination that was interesting above and beyond being a place to drive to, but even “Scenic Hwy 1 from Pacifica to Santa Cruz” has its appeal.

3. Food and drink and restrooms

We’re biological creatures, and that means things go into our bodies and come back out. You’ll want your run to take biological functions into account, as well as having a dining option that can handle the crowd.

Generally if the run is 2 hours or less, you don’t need a bio break in the middle, just a restaurant or coffee shop on either end. The longer the run, the more useful a mid-point break is.

As with the starting and ending points, any mid-point break should be scouted to make sure there’s room for all of the cars. You should also confirm with the destination restaurant that they can seat everyone. Remember that 12 cars is probably 20-24 people, and if you’re meeting somewhere interesting, there might be a couple more who drop in. Make a reservation if possible, or at least let the proprietor know what’s coming their way.

3. Photo spots

We like getting photos of our cars together, so your route should offer at least one or two opportunities to stop, get out, stretch, and line up for photos. As above, make sure there’s room for all the cars, and get creative if you have to. The San Diego club, for example, shot about a dozen cars parked two-up in a roundabout driveway.

4. Communications

You’ll probably need three cars designated as coordinators. You have the lead, a middle relay, and the sweeper bringing up the rear. These three people need to have radios, and probably cell phones as well, to keep in touch and make sure nobody gets left behind. Remember that some runs will take you through areas of spotty or non-existent cell service, so don’t assume you can use a conference call in lieu of the radios.

Anyone else in the run can bring a radio as well–Family Radio Service (FRS) radios are under $50 each and can be found easily in electronics stores or online. Set a channel and CTCSS code (like 4-08) ahead of time so people can set their radios to it. And remember that the primary reason for using the radios is to keep in touch during the run about things that affect the drive (turns, traffic, cyclists, herds of water buffalo), so keep other conversations brief so that everyone can stay on top of the situation.

5. Financials

Let people know what expenses are likely to come up on the run. Our club has a $5 event fee for non-members (and a liability waiver to be filled out), so folks should plan to have a bit of cash or an acceptable digital payment method for that.

We all know what a Starbucks visit will cost, but check (and share) the menu for your food stops, and remind people that cash is king when you’re trying to pay for 20+ covers at a restaurant. Always tip generously too.

If there are elements of your trip that require payment (visiting a national park or tourist attraction, parking at a specific location, etc), be sure to communicate that ahead of time and confirm the amount and payment method. For example, the 17 Mile Scenic Drive at Pebble Beach charges $10.25 as of this writing, and only accepts cash.

Final thoughts

This seems pretty wordy, but I’ve tried to explain what you’ll need to think about (and what people will want to know) about a club run. If you take these things into account, your run has the best chance of being enjoyable, well-attended, and successful.

As an aside, if you’re planning a run for the West Coast Kappas, make sure the board knows so we can have a board member (or four) on hand and make it an official event. We’ll set up an event on the Facebook page for people to view, and make you an editor of the event so you can keep the details up to date and watch the RSVPs stream in.

Any thoughts or suggestions we haven’t come up with yet? Feel free to share them in the comments. Safe driving!

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