Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Mullet Fall Classic number trend...

It is always been difficult to accurately plan for a race in terms of the turnout. I over-extended myself this year trying to figure out just how many shirts, hats, prizes, and what not to purchase. I certainly tried again this year and based it on studying the previous three years attendance of 155-172. Weather was great. Trail conditions were super-excellent. PR was not lacking. Series numbers were on track to meet our IMBCS goal.

However, the numbers fell off the chart this year at The Mullet. We only had 133 entries (17 of which were trail runners who raced for a $10 entry fee which barely covered the insurance and swag for them). Add the other 7 of the total 140 number which were in the free kids race. So what I was really staring directly in the face was a drop from 160 MTB racers in 2014 down to 123 for 2015. That's a drop off of 37 racers or, a full 23% year over year - and a drop of 28% from the peak in 2012 of 172 MTB Racers. The 23% drop from last year alone is enough to sink any boat when 1/4th of expected entry fee income is yanked out from underneath one's planned budget.

All in all, the combination of the expenses (chip timing, porta-potty rental, permits, insurance, awards, prize money, water, snacks, and my choice to have swag for all participants with the "Everyone Loves a Mullet" theme) was all selected on a budget model from the three prior seasons numbers. Obviously, I needed more racers than we got to break even and missed the mark. The event was still fun for those that were in attendance, but it was an epic failure on my part as an event planner. I chose the date a year ago, but the schedule has become rather crowded and may be contributing to the trend in numbers turning south since 2012. And there may be others who simply chose not to race the event because the been there, done that factor has kicked in at this point after 8 years of this event.

The Mullet Fall Classic History of Participants 

2015: 140 racers (in the red)
2014:  160 racers (broke even)

2013:  168 racers (surplus carried forward to 2014)
2012:  172 racers (surplus given as CITA donation)
2011:  155 racers (surplus given as CITA donation)
2010:  133 racers (surplus carried forward to 2011)
2009:  61 racers (broke even)
2008:  41 racers (in the red)

Regardless of the event this year, it does give me pause to study the trend in the numbers; where the race falls within the calendar year; what went right; what went wrong and contemplate the future of the event for me. Obviously, there is no need for everyone getting a prize at registration which alone would have made me solvent with the lower number turnout. Ordering one less porta-potty, or utilizing the State Park facilities only by scheduling the race earlier in the season to avoid the toilet expense. Simply planning on a smaller turnout from the get go. There is plenty for me to chew on and come up with a decision going forward.