Race insurance and emergency medical services are definitely not on the glamorous side of race direction. Just as with regular life, paying money for insurance is the least rewarding form of gambling. The last thing you want to do is “win”, since that means someone got hurt. So you’re left having to hope for a best-case scenario: that all the money you spend goes to waste. The key here, like much of life, is to try and approach things with a healthy dose of acceptance. It’s the price of doing business in the racing world.
There are many ways to get event insurance, but when it comes to running races the I found the most popular providers to be the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and USA Track & Field (USATF). In my informal research, the RRCA seemed to be the more popular, but I found their website difficult to navigate when all I wanted to do was apply for event insurance. The USATF website is a little clunky, but it was straightforward to apply for Event Sanctioning. This sanctioning process includes obtaining insurance and agreeing to abide by some basic standards for your event. The price varies by region, but for me it was $150 and that includes a badge to display on your website and a listing of your event on their calendar.
If all I needed to spend was $150 to have my event covered, I wouldn’t complain at all. Pay a one-time fee, and you’re all set. Of course, there is a bit of a catch. Any running event needs some amount of medical staff available in case of emergencies. In the case of USATF sanctioning, it’s actually required; they will not issue the sanction until they verify that you have EMS coverage.
Since this was my first time needing emergency services on standby, I searched around on the internet. In some areas there are several companies, in others, like Chico, there is only one company that provides services. They do contract for events, and were available for my race day. However, because I needed them for about 12 hours, this was not cheap. In the end, I agreed to pony up and have the two EMTs and ambulance on-site for the full event.
What might I do differently for 2016? I am going to look in to having EMTs available without necessarily using an EMS company. If I were paying private parties, there would be less overhead for them and, presumably, a lower cost to me. The potential downside to this is insurance. With the EMS company, all the liability insurance for their employees is completely covered. I need to make sure that I don’t assume any liability if I have independent EMTs treating my runners.
For the 2015 Rim To Rim Trail Run, I’m happy to report that I made very little use of the available EMTs. While there were several incidents of scrapes and bruises from falls, one dislocated finger, and several folks with mild heat exhaustion, the majority of the runners crossed the finish line without incident. Even though it was hard to pay for the help, I was happy to have medical backup. For a rough and rugged course on a hot, humid day, it was worth paying for peace of mind.