Almost 40,000 runners and 34,000 bananas will take over a 6.2-mile stretch of Richmond on Saturday.
The annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, one of the biggest events put on by local race promoter Sports Backers, is April 13. And with the hordes of people and long lists of required supplies, the logistics of the event get more complex each year.
The participant count was approaching 38,000 as of Monday, said Jon Lugbill, Sports Backers executive director.
That’s down a bit from this time last year, Lugbill said, but the race typically gets up to 1,500 last-minute signups.
“It’s going strong – not quite at the level last year – but very close,” he said.
Total participants last year, including the kid’s run, were 42,540. That was down from the event’s peak of 43,214 in 2011.
Now in its 14th year, the Monument race has jumped by at least 2,000 new participants in almost each of its first 13 years.
Between the almost 40,000 paid participants and sponsorship dollars, the event is a big get for Sports Backers each year. Lugbill would not share how much the race generates in revenue each year, nor would he say what the organization’s budget is for the event.
“This is really important to our finances,” he said.
Sports Backers brought in $5.35 million in revenue in its most recent fiscal year, which ended last June, according to its tax records. That’s up from $5.01 million in the previous year. The bulk of that revenue comes from its roster of more than a dozen events.
Its expenses also jumped during that period. They were at $5.51 million in its most recent year. That’s up from $5.02 million the year prior.
With its growth over the years have come ever-evolving logistical challenges.
“The sheer volume definitely requires more logistics coordination,” Lugbill said.
The organization moves trucks full of items to prepare for a total crowd, including spectators, that reaches up to almost 70,000.
Besides the tens of thousands of bananas that will be delivered to the race site, other logistical challenges include the gathering of:
- 374 portable toilets
- 43,488 bottles of water
- 340,000 cups
- 68,000 Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods White House Rolls
But it’s the crowds that present the biggest hurdle.
“There is more that we do related to moving people,” Lugbill said. “Normally everybody is worried about traffic flow as in cars. With this we worry about traffic flow with pedestrians. You’re talking 60,000 to 70,000 people, pretty much all on their feet.”
Intricacies of race logistics include closing a lane of traffic on Belvidere for the finish line at Monroe Park. There’s also the trick of having signs elevated above six feet to direct the crowds.
“Anything below disappears when you have that many people,” Lugbill said.
Race day begins Saturday at about 6:45 a.m. The route begins on West Broad Street at the corner of North Harrison Street. It ends at Monroe Park on Franklin Street.
It’s a great race and a great example of Sports Backers’ leadership taking a ‘let’s-make-it-the-best-in-the-U.S.’ perspective.
Well done – every year!