There are thousands of runner’s who write about their training, their racing, and their sport. Some running websites have thousands of readers, others have hundreds, and the rest have only dozens. No matter how many readers a runner’s site has, though, they can still write passionate reports about the races that they have run and the fun and adversity that they have faced.
There are a few different styles of race reports that I use when I write here at Run to Win. The first and most common type simply state the facts of the race and are rather brief. I will usually state how many people ran, who won, any outstanding performances, and if I ran I might mention a few tidbits about my own race. If I have one available, I will usually include a photo from the race. For an example, you can read my report about this year’s Eliot 5k. The purpose of these race reports are to reinforce my local community and to provide a place where I can share a few thoughts on a race.
The other type of race report that I write tends to take up to a week to publish and is detailed enough to be spread out over 3 to 5 articles. I will write a few thousand words (interlaced with pictures as available) summarizing the experiences, talking about what led up to the start of a race, the race itself, and how things went when the race was completed. My most recent race report of this style was for my first ultramarathon, the Pisgah 50k. In these reports, I am really accomplishing two things. I am first capturing my thoughts for myself, so that I have a record that I can look back on to remind me of the things that I did correctly and the things that I did wrong. Reading over these reports months and years later can make me both proud and humble, and remind me why I run these things in the first place.
The second reason, and one that is just as if not more important, is that I write these reports for other people. I have been running for almost 2 decades, which is a significant chunk of my life, and it can be helpful for other people to know what passes through my mind when I run a race. It lets them know what to expect about a given course or distance. It lets them know what they can do better than me, or what they can work on. I am not the only person that tries to find out everything that I can about a race ahead of time as I can, and I like to provide that service to others when possible.
So what makes up a good race report? Is it better to write a short mention of what happened, or is it better to write multi-page opuses that take half an hour to an hour to read through?
Based on the feedback that I have gotten from you and my other readers, I have to recommend leaning towards the longer articles when you write about your races. If you are just training through a race and it did not mean much to you, then you probably will not write a good race report and it would not be worth spending a lot of time on it. If you have been training for a specific race, though, and you gave it a good effort (whether you succeeded or failed), then use as many words as you can to record your journey from the starting line (and earlier) to the finish line (and beyond.)
Inject your personality into your race report, and not only will you have something that you will be happier to go back to in the future, but your readers will enjoy reading the report more and will better manage to sympathize and relate to you whether they have similar experiences or not. Tell a story, and you will have a better chance of keeping the attention of your reader and yourself.
Photo by Ian ParlinFor some examples from other websites, I have recently read two very good race reports that really make me want to try new things. I have spoken previously about the Vermont 100, and Stephen Wells has finally finished describing exactly what it felt like to run for 100 miles in Vermont this past Summer. When you have a few moments, I recommend reading his report, glancing through his pictures that he has interspersed, and try to imagine what it would feel like to follow in his footsteps.
If 100 miles seems as foreign to you as it does to me, then you can read about Chuck’s 50 mile run which also took place in Vermont. Chuck hurt his leg not too long ago, but he was able to move past his injury and ran the entire 50 miles in Vibram 5 Fingers “shoes”, which are basically rubber socks with a separate little pouch for each toe.
If you are looking for inspiration about your running, or if you are looking for some tips about how to put together a good story about a race, I recommend reading both of those stories about racing distances that very few people would ever consider.