As part of our election for new FLRC board members, we asked some survey questions to improve our races and other events, and provide you a chance to give feedback about how the club is working. The survey garnered 119 responses, a record number representing about 18% of the club members with unique email addresses. Thanks to everyone who participated! I’ll cover the answers to the specific questions here, and we’re working on responses to the freeform comments for a future post. Note that since this was an entirely self-selected survey, it only reflects the opinions of those who chose to participate.
First, though, we asked if you’d like to join one of FLRC’s teams or committees. Huge thanks to all those who expressed interest! I’ll be adding you to the associated groups on the forum shortly, so look for a welcome message there soon.
Our next question asked you to rank the value of these communications channels for learning about FLRC races. Our goal was to make sure we focus our volunteer time on the most valuable places. The results matched what we expected: that the FLRC forum and the FLRC website are by far the most valuable places for learning about our races. Third was word-of-mouth, which tells us we should encourage people to tell their friends about races. A somewhat surprising fourth was other running calendar websites. If you voted for that, please reply to this post with running calendars you find helpful so we can ensure our races are listed there.
The three least valuable methods of learning about races were Facebook, Instagram, and paper flyers. Upon reflection, though, I think that’s more a function of who responded to the survey—involved FLRC members—than anything else. Those channels are most useful for those who aren’t already engaged with FLRC, perhaps being new to Ithaca or new to running. A paper flyer or Facebook post may be what those people need as an introduction to the club.
Our next question, which asked where you read FLRC forum posts, was designed to help us set our expectations about how people see our communications:
- 91% of respondents read forum posts in email
- 47% read the forum website on a computer
- 39% check the website on a phone
(Some of us read in multiple places, which is why the numbers exceed 100%.) This is helpful information because, for instance, polls like our group run pace polls only work on the website, and nicely formatted photo grids on the website devolve into one-after-another lists in email, so they should be kept to the end of posts.
A frequent topic of conversation among race directors and volunteers this year has been the trend toward ever-later registrations. Several races almost doubled in size in the last two days, which makes it difficult to know how much food to buy and causes stress for race directors. (Imagine how it feels when it’s only a few days before your race and only half of the usual number of runners have signed up.) In discussions, two possible solutions came up: implementing timed registration fee tiers to encourage earlier signups or closing registration 3–4 days before the race so there would be time to prepare.
A significant majority—72% of respondents—preferred the fee tiers, with only 24% voting for cutting off registration early. Although a couple of people suggested both, we also received comments from those who appreciate the opportunity to sign up close to the race date because they don’t control their schedules enough to sign up in advance.
The board and race directors will discuss this issue next year to see if we want to implement some standard timed bumps in registration fees for our “community races,” the smaller events enjoyed primarily by locals. Our “marquee races,” which attract numerous runners from out of town—the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile, Skunk Cabbage Classic, and Finger Lakes 50s—have their own individual constraints.
Now for opinions on one of the reasons many of us run—the snacks! Bananas continue to reign supreme as the preferred post-race or group run food, and it’s not surprising. They’re tasty and healthy, and have evolved perfect packaging so you don’t have to touch what you’re eating or get your hands sticky. (Bananas are also the most popular fruit in the world, with more than 100 billion consumed annually.) Bagels are a close second, with watermelon a solid third, though I imagine those votes are seasonal—few people want watermelon at Winter Chill. After that, the votes tail off. Salty snacks like potato chips and pretzels garnered some write-in votes, but we also got comments from those who can’t eat gluten, which knocks out many of the standard snacks. We hear you, and those who have volunteered for the Food Team can discuss how to meet the needs of those who must avoid gluten.
On the drinks side, water was by far the top vote-getter, with energy drinks, chocolate milk, and cider bubbling along together with votes from about a third of the respondents. Coffee and beer received some write-in votes, with individuals speaking up for hot cocoa, sparkling water, apple juice, and alternative milk options. Honestly, I thought about adding coffee to the poll, but I didn’t want to be seen as committing race directors or the Food Team to something that requires last-minute pickup, special storage in an insulated container, and potentially additional waste. Hot drinks are just trickier and more work than cold. Consider the suggestion conveyed, and perhaps the Food Team will devise a solution for those who appreciate their caffeine.
There’s no diversity in supermarket bananas—they’re all Cavendish—but we have some choices with bagels. When we ran this poll question in 2021, Everything bagels won handily, but this year, Cinnamon-Raisin took the top spot, pushing Everything down to second. Both are on the upper end of the flavor spectrum, with the less assertive Sesame and Plain flavors solidly in third and fourth. Poppy fared poorly—perhaps people don’t like getting poppy seeds in their teeth—and Onion bagels can be both too strong and too sticky. In the write-in votes, blueberry and whole wheat garnered a couple of supporters, but equally as many people said they didn’t like or eat bagels. And five people pointed out the gluten problem. We hear you, and we’ll try to make sure the race directors and Food Team remember these results when ordering bagels next year.
Finally, what do you like putting on your bagels? Plain cream cheese and peanut butter, mostly. Flavored cream cheese has its adherents, as do honey and jam, but some feel they’re messy and don’t stay on the bagel well, and other nut butters couldn’t compete with peanut. In refinements to the top vote-getters, several people asked for vegan, non-dairy cream cheese and natural, unsweetened peanut butter. And a couple of folks like butter on their bagels.
Overall, I promise to share this information with the people who buy food for races and group runs, but it’s a balancing act to meet everyone’s needs while staying within budget and not buying a lot of food that may go to waste. Hopefully, this data will help those buying food be more aware of what our community prefers and purchase accordingly.
Thanks again for completing the survey, and we’re looking forward to running with you in 2024!