These days Brandon Laan is a busy man.
An elite runner with a 2:21 marathon already under his belt, Laan now wants to change the road racing industry. One of a handful of projects being spearheaded by the London, Ont.- based runner and entrepreneur is Race Roster, a new service that will make it easier for race organizers and participants to find each other and sign up for races.
The Race Roster model is a social media race tool mixed with the allure of the daily deal model: think Facebook meets Groupon for runners.
Race Roster, which launched in June, is an online service that will allow race directors to organize every aspect of their race from the Race Roster site, just as you would manage a group on Facebook but with the needs of organizing a road race front and centre, right down to signing up participants and distributing tasks to volunteers.
What’s unique about Race Roster in the currently cluttered world of road racing registration is the ‘pay-it-forward’ referral model. “What’s exciting for race organizers is that we’re turning participants into promotors of the race.” said Laan in between a 5 a.m. track workout and a slew of afternoon business meetings. “Each registered runner gets a link that they can share with friends, and every time a new runner registers with your link we give you $5. So, you sign up, say, 10 people, you basically are running the race for free.”
Also, both the race dashboard and individual runner’s dashboards will track how much money is being raised for specific charities. This is something that may push fundraising to a whole new level in the running world, which is something that Laan recognizes is a huge motivator for many runners and race organizers.
Interestingly, volunteers can participate in the referral program, where they can earn money from getting others to sign up to the race, which is added incentive to both volunteer for Race Roster facilitated races, as well as added way to get a race’s word out.
Laan feels that one of the biggest draws of Race Roster for race directors will be the democratization of marketing a worthwhile race in a crowded marketplace. “We see it as potentially the biggest way for race directors to promote their race. A lot of race directors don’t have the money to spend on lots of advertising. With Race Roster you’ve got the participant promoting the race, which we think is a more genuine, honest way to advertise, because the person promoting the race has also run the race.”
Not only will Race Roster level the playing field between big budget mega events and homegrown, well loved local races, it will also propel the industry into the 21st century, something that any runner and race organizer knows is desperately needed. No more pen and paper same-day registration and the potential for chip timing screw-ups. “We’ve developed an app,” said Laan, who has long been frustrated by how backward the running world can be. “With Race Roster, all you’ll need on race day is an iPad and a credit card machine hooked up to it and you can sign up painlessly and be registered and ready to go immediately.”
Race Roster is currently being rolled out for a number of potential races across North America. It’s official launch will be at Laan’s Rock the Road 10K in London on Aug. 19.
Laan is banking on the fact that runners can actually earn money for recommending races to fellow runners, as well as have a destination for all their race registration needs. “It’s really fast. We had a challenge in the office to see who could sign up the fastest. It takes less than five minutes to join Race Roster.” Race Roster will also be totally free to both runners and race organizers. Laan’s business model is to simply split profits of the processing fee with each race, and then reward runners that promote something that they already love and want to share with others.
You can learn more about Race Roster and sign up for an account by visiting their site.