It is hope that this practical cum academic exercise
would benefit the current Committee since I have been
endorsed by the club to attend this course. I would
also share excerpts (in bite size) from my papers over
the 6 chapters in the club's magazine the Footloose
and my own website, www.runnersmalaysia.com.my
as a reference point for better club management. As
a new retiree, this course has given me the pleasure
and commitment towards self development and also meeting
a number of new friends.
History of Club
In early 1984, Kris Lee Siu Heng, a sales executive
with Nike and Alex Moh Chean Seng, a keen distance runner
mooted the idea of forming a distance running club,
while preparing for the inaugural Kuala Lumpur International
Marathon. Their dream gained momentum when they roped
in Raymond Teoh, then general manager of the company
promoting Nike products, Marina Chin our national sprint
queen, Dr. Ronnie Yeo, a medical doctor with the National
Sports Council and Dato' Professor Khairuddin Yusof
. They had their first meeting on 23 January 1984 at
Raymond's office and decided on the name of the club
"Pacesetters" from a word in a runner magazine.
The logo was adopted from running legend, Frank Shorter's
product logo with some variation. The constitution was
based on one from the Lights Athletic Club.
Kris Lee then approached Datuk Shahrir Abdul, the then
Minister of Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur to be patron.
Datuk Shahrir suggested that the club add the words
Athletic Club to the name so that it can be affiliated
with the Federal Territory Amateur Athletic Association
(FTAAA), hence the name Pacesetters Athletic Club. He
also consented to be the patron of the club.
The club was unofficially launched during the Kuala
Lumpur Marathon with about 10 runners wearing the club's
vest sponsored by Raymond's company, Roberston, Wilson,
Jamil (M) Sdn Bhd. Later the Pro-tem Committee decided
to organize a charity run on the launch date to create
an impact. Dr Ronnie came out with the concept paper
and the date of the run was fixed on 20 May 1984. The
run would start at Lake Garden and end at Petaling Jaya
Hilton car-park. The run attracted about 500 runners
and the club was born.
However, when the founder batch of the committee left
the club, we lost this event management skill. During
the 1990s under Retired Colonel Mustapha, the club was
more focused on philanthropic event like charity runs
and not on competitive runs. Charity runs are quite
a different from competitive runs as the focus is on
fund raising. There is very little technicality in charity
runs. The club came back as a co-organizer in 2001,
partnering FTAAA in the New Balance FTAAA Pacesetters
4 x 2km. It was two years later in 2003 that the club
own our first event, the Nike Pacesetters 15km. This
assignment is written principally on our experience
in the Pacesetters 15km from 2003 to 2009.
Vision Statement : We aspire to be the role model running
club in the country.
I recall when I was first elected president in March
2000, the Star Reporter, Stuart Michael asked me what
I want the club to be. I did not say we want to be the
biggest club but instead as a role model club for others
to follow. At that time the local running clubs were
in a weak position, the few famous clubs like SWIFT,
LIGHT and JETS had sort of closed down due to problems
of their own. The national association, Malaysian Amateur
Athletic Union (MAAU) was having problems of their own
and the local athletic fraternity got into the news
for all the wrong reasons. I wanted PACM to be a breath
of fresh air in the athletic arena.
1. We promote running as a sustainable
recreational activity among the grass root, catering
for individuals of all ages and capability
2. Act as an internal and external event organizer to
support the above.
I was very clear in my mind that our club is not going
to be an elitists' club, (unlike MR 25 in Singapore),
it will cater for individuals of all ages and capability.
It is a very inclusive club, so long you are keen run,
you are welcomed. You can be as young as 4 years old
or as old as 75, this is the club for you. In supporting
our Vision Mission Statement, we will organize events
for our members, families and the public who are interested
to run. In this regards I always remember the 3 generation
relay team formed up by our former treasurer, Chen Kok
Siong during the Fathers' Day Breakfast Run when his
father, his son and him formed the 3 generation relay
MR 25 is an exclusive club for elite runners in Singapore.
To join as a member, each individual must be able to
run the McRitchie Reservoir route within 25 minutes.
(4.8km for ladies) www.mr25.org.sg
The objectives of the club as stated in the constitution
drafted in 1984 and revised once before I took over
also clearly state what we are to achieve.
- to promote, develop and encourage the sport of running
in the country
- to foster mutual goodwill, understanding and friendship
between its members
- to promote and / or participate in sports and social
activities related to running both locally and internationally
- to develop and promote running programs for the
benefit of the community
- to develop and promote other form of outdoor sports
activities amongst its members.
You can see that our objectives tie in
nicely to our Vision Mission Statement. We also need
to carry out a SWOT Analysis to determine what are the
strength and weaknesses of the club in event management
at a micro level and then also to examine the macro
environment we are operating in and determine the opportunities
/ threats. Admittedly, this is something I did not do
while I was the president and looking back now, it is
an essential exercise that should be carried out each
year by the Committee. This is my SWOT Analysis based
on current situation I can see from outside the Committee;
The SWOT Analysis on Event Management
- è Strong support by sponsors
on club's events
è Has developed a strong following of
our events from runners, many repeat customers
è Has built up a tried and tested process
in event management, including the use of timing
è Has built up a strong team of volunteers
in event management
- è Event management has
become too taxing on the Executive Committee
è The registration process is still relatively
manual, without on-line registration which is
the standard for overseas events.
weakness of other event organizers has allowed
us to gain grounds as the most reliable event
manager in road races
è More potential event owners coming
to the club for help on run event management
and/or as sponsors
è More emphasis on sports tourism,
ties in well with road races.
- è Higher cost of operation, both products
and services due to inflation
è More competing events in the market
place for sponsors
è Economic crisis has adversely affect
consumption behavior of runners and sponsors
seeking value proposition
The New Balance Pacesetters 15km 2005
I am writing this module 6 based on my experience with
the Pacesetters 15km over a period of 7 years from 2003
to 2009. During the first 4 years from 2003 to 2006,
I was the Race Director of the event and in the recent
3 years since I left the committee I have been a participant.
Therefore, some of the observation on the event has
been pieced together from hard facts from the event
file I kept (both hard and soft copies) and some from
my memory of the event. The Pacesetters 15km is an important
event to the club and it has been a launching pad for
the club to venture into other events such as the Pacesetters
30km in 2006.
Our desire to have our own event stemmed from the bad
experience we have with the various road races organized
locally. The more experienced members in the club have
been participating in overseas road races and came back
with stories of their pleasant experience. The nearest
shinning example of good runners focused events are
from our neighbour, Thailand "the land of smiles"
Up to 2002, the local road races are dominated by the
local amateur athletic associations and the municipals.
These races while have low entry fees, usually RM10
(USD3) per entry, the quality is unsatisfactory to seasoned
runners in our club who have participated in overseas
road races. Among the running clubs, only Kelab Roadrunners
Ipoh (http://www.ipohroadrunners.org ) were organizing
their own event, an annual 10km run in Ipoh, 200km north
of Kuala Lumpur.
We decided to change it and plunged into event management
in late 2002. We want to be the standard setting club
in the country. It is our vision that every major town
in Malaysia should have a running club and each of these
clubs organize an event each year. If our vision on
this turnout right, we will have a circuit of runs organized
by runners for runners.
In accordance to section 6.3 - Organizing the Sport
Event, there are 4 phases; design, development, implementation
and dissolution of the event. As this event does not
involve any bidding process, it is our own decision
to have this event as our own project for the members
and the public. The crucial piece is getting sponsors
to help us with part of the costs. Once the title sponsorship
is determined, we proceed to move ahead with the execution
of the event. All in all, a 6 months time frame is required
from the decision to hold the event till event date.
This would allow adequate time to execute all the required
action, from ordering the vests, medals, selling and
registering the participants.
Part A : Designing the Event
Objectives of the Event
Right from the start after having decided on our ambition
to have an event in our name, we articulate on the key
objectives in wanting an event. After some internal
discussion and encouragement from some members, we set
down our objectives as follows;
1. Have an event in our name, in the process building
up a franchise
2. Have a quality event for runners with a unique distance
3. Introduce the famous double hill route, our usual
Sunday training route to runners who are not our club
4. Build up organization skills within the club on event
5. Inculcate volunteerism in the club
6. Build up a consistent pool of sponsors on a win-win
7. Set standards for other event organizers to follow
8. As an additional source of income for the club
Features of the event
We have been rather critical of the events offered in
the country by the local AAAs and the municipals that
are big players of road races in the country. The municipals
have large budgets but they are more focus on the frills
and trying to please the VIPs in their respective constituency
and do not place adequate importance of the runners.
Many a times we feel we are there to make up the numbers.
We decided we want to change this and the mindset that
comes with it. We started to preach that runners are
the customers of road races and the organizers are to
walk the extra mile to provide good customer service.
We do not want marshals or officials who are rude and
shout at runners. We want helpful service with a smile
at all points of contact between the runners and the
organizers. We feel only the runners know what is important
to the runners and therefore we will take on the challenge
to fulfil this.
We listed down the following key features of event;
1. Finisher medals for all runners
2. Quality event vest for all runners
3. Breakfast after event for all runners
4. Individualized certificate with time, position and
5. No prize monies, only product vouchers
6. Challenging route, our famous double hill route
7. Traffic safety and adequate water stations
8. Punctuality at the start
9. Friendly services at each contact point; end to end.
10. Volunteerism at its best
Part B : Developing the Event
Our initial approach to sponsorship is to seek a sports
brand to come in as the title sponsor by providing the
apparels (the event vests for the participants) and
the prizes for the winners. We believe that once this
is resolved, we could take care of the rest of the expenditure
from our entry fees. The focus on seeking the other
co-sponsors is more to provide or pay for those other
items we need such as medal, isotonic drinks, water
and breakfast. In seeking sponsorship we prepare a concept
paper and back up with a VCD on the event the previous
year. The title sponsor for 2003 and 2004 was Nike and
New Balance took over from 2005 to 2009. A more detailed
discussion on the event sponsorship is discussed in
Module 5 assignment.
Entry Form & Route Charting
Once the designing phase is over we have to do two things
quite simultaneously, we need to talk to the potential
sponsors and we also need to design the entry forms.
In the first year the entry form can be a challenge
as it is full of information. We need to draft the rules
of the event, putting in the all important registration
information. We need to chart the route. I remember
during our first year in 2003, we charted and measure
the route on the second day of Chinese New Year. We
used a car and a racing bike fitted with a distance
meter. The distance of our intended route was 15.1km
and that fits in to our intended distance of 15km. The
Pacesetters 15km takes its shape with the route map
When all the information needed are in, the designer
incorporate the event logo and the registration form
Organization Chart & Event Checklist
We do not have a separate organizing committee for the
event as it was felt that the same committee should
undertake the event. I as the president of the club
will be the de facto Race Director of the event. Our
treasurer of the club will also look after the finance
of the event.
We do not need a very formal execution
plan but I drafted a checklist literally listing down
the A to Z that the event needs. This checklist is updated
each week and email out to the whole committee such
that each member is well aware the status of the event.
As Race Director, I personally track and update the
Stakeholders of event
We identify 3 key stakeholders of the event; the runners,
the club and the sponsors. The runners want a good event
and good experience in a sport they love. The club have
our own objectives as highlighted above. The sponsors
want exposure to their brands. We endeavour to satisfy
all three parties to ensure our event is continuing
Budget & War Chest
When we drafted out budget, we knew that we only need
a title sponsor to pay for the event vests and we are
not out of pocket. Any other sponsors coming in will
add richness to the event, defray other expenditure
and we could make a profit. We were the first organizer
to charge RM40 per entry for the event which was unheard
of back in 2003. The usual rate for event then was RM10
per entry. We feel the higher rate is justified as we
are giving much more to the runners and they appreciate
the difference. The high rate of repeat customers year
after year is a clear sign that our rates are reasonable,
despite higher than market rates.
After the first two years, the club has made some profit
from the events as well as enjoying a surplus arising
from a larger members' base. The club has a healthy
balance sheet and set aside a sum of money we loosely
call it "the war chest" This sum of money
gave us confidence to commit into starting an event
before sponsorship is confirmed. It also allows us to
pay off vendors and service providers as and when we
incur the expenditure to earn ourselves as a good paymaster.
Sponsors tend to be notorious in confirming late on
We prepare a simple budget based on what we need to
satisfy the features of the event. The budget would
guide us on our level of expenditure and the breakeven
level for us to attain. Usually, once the breakeven
level is attained, the club would make a marginal profit
on each extra entry. We found that once we can get beyond
1,000 entries, it would be a profitable event.
Part C : Implementing the Event
Media Bliz & Brand Exposure
As the sponsors as stakeholders who contribute to the
event, we are mindful of their brand exposure requirement.
The exposure of the brand comes in the form of the entry
form, website, media launch, media exposure after the
event and logo of title and main sponsor on the event
vest and event bib. More discussion on this is written
in chapter 5 on sponsorship and marketing.
While the club has a website, we have not built in an
on-line registration process, admittedly we are behind
in this area. Our friendly rival in Ipoh, Kelab Roadrunners
Ipoh has an online registration process but payment
has to be made separately by banking into their account.
The main reason for the delay is that micro payments
in Malaysia attract high commission charges. It will
be a standard moving forward but this has not been a
feature between 2003 and 2009. Standard Chartered KL
Marathon 2009 is the first road race in Malaysia with
online registration with payment via credit card. The
current president, Mr. Rustam Affandi Zaihan has announced
that the on-line registration will come on in 2010.
The online registration at our website
will add on to our existing delivery channels.
We compensate this weakness with diligent ground work
by having a mobile registration team operating each
Sunday at the site of various run events. In addition,
we also carried out onsite registration at Bukit Aman
Car-park, the main base of the club during Sundays.
The response has been tremendous as we distribute entry
forms and also register runners. It may sounds primitive
but this onsite registration is extremely successful
as we are able to get a good portion of our entries
via onsite registration at road races. Our biggest block
of participants is from our club itself, the entries
came in via the Area Groups when the entries came in
batches. Member entries make up almost 50% of our total
entries. We have also been very successful in recruiting
members during the registration exercise as club members
get a discount on event organized by us.
Role of Federal Territory Amateur Athletic Association
In the first 3 years of the event from 2003 to 2005,
we hired FTAAA to provide us the technical support.
Their role is to start the event and record the time
of every runner. When we first hired FTAAA for the 2003
event, we have two reasons for doing so;
1. We have not organize a road race since 1984 and therefore
do not have the experience within the club
2. We want a neutral party to provide the technical
support as about 50% of the participants are our own
members with the balance from the public.
FTAAA used a manual system to record the time, a stack
of position cards and jot down the time as each runner
finished the run. In 2003, we only have 600 entries,
it was pretty manageable but as the event grew, the
manual system would not be able to cope.
Special Challenges - Timing & Photographic Certificates
We have set the standard that each runner will get a
certificate that indicates the time, the category position,
the gender position and the overall position; we are
not comfortable to leave the timing entirely to FTAAA.
In 2004, we started a back-up system using a lap top
to record the runners coming in. It is backed up with
two still cameras and a video camera at the finish line.
This system requires tremendous back room work after
the event to match the finishers with their time and
photographs. The runners were notified in the runners'
information memorandum not to cover their bib numbers
when they cross the line. This system has its little
success as we were able to issue certificates with photograph
of the runner finishing the event by the 2004 event.
It went through a few improvement and we have almost
perfected it by 2006 (PhotoCert.pdf)
By 2006, we were confident enough to execute the whole
event on our own without FTAAA and we have arrived as
an event organizer. We were able to execute the whole
event on our own with our own members as volunteers!
Acquisition of assets for event; A-Boards &
Timing Chips System
We reinvested our profit from the event into equipment
we need, we bought lap tops, A Boards & signage
and eventually in 2008 we acquired a timing chips system.
Our timing chips system use disposable chips but being
frugal we try to recycle them by imposing a deposit
to encourage the return of the chips. We are now considered
one of the most equipped race event organizers in the
country. During the Borneo International Marathon in
2008, our chip system was used by the organizer.
Operational Summary & Volunteers
Volunteers are mostly required during the eve and the
day of the event. Prior to this, the functions such
as onsite registration are carried out mainly by the
11 elected committee members and the area group leaders.
The key functions and the number of volunteers required
are as follows;
Our strategy has always been having at
least one member of the committee taking charge of each
critical function. The rest of the team can come from
ad hoc volunteers. All in all, we could use up to 100
volunteers for an event with 2,000 participants.
Survey & Feedback on Event
We place great emphasis on getting feedback of runners
such that we could improve on our event the following
year. We have a questionnaire and a sample of 100 is
taken from the runners on a random basis immediately
after the run. This is carried out by the survey team
and the results of the survey is compiled and discussed
at the next committee meeting. (SurveyForm.doc &
Site Layout & Runners Information Memorandum
The layout of the site is drafted and sent to the service
providers to ensure they know where to load the tents,
equipment such as PA System etc. It is also important
piece of information for runners to know where to get
their service and where to gather. Of adequate site
signage are there to complement this site layout plan.
The memorandum is informative with the program and information
runners need to know. This is distributed along with
the bibs and event vest when runners collect their race
Some Safety Best Practices
While the route safety is the primary responsibility
of the traffic police, we complement the effort with
our team of route marshal. Our marshal use motor bikes
to patrol the route to ensure runners run on the correct
side of the road and all junctions are guarded. We hire
Saint John's Ambulance to be on duty during the event
day. We have also followed a best practice from the
Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, whereby the reverse
side of the bibs would have the medical information
of the runners. Runners are encouraged to write their
medical allergies, contact number and next of kin in
case of an emergency.
Press liaison, pre and post event
While it is normal practice to have a press launch to
inform the public of our event, not much media coverage
is generated in between. In the 2005 event, we held
a trial run 2 weeks before the event to allow the public
to get familiar with the route and after that trial
run, we conducted a talk on running shoes. An expert
on shoes was invited from New Balance Singapore Regional
Office to talk. This little promotional event gave some
media coverage to the event and the sponsors.
As a local event, we do not normally get into the back
sports pages as those pages are exclusively reserved
for international sports coverage, usually dominated
by football. Therefore, our event will not attract all
the sports writers, we are happy with the attendance
of a few writers from metro edition covering local news.
However, we believe in sending out the stories to all
the media. We pre-prepare the press release on the event,
giving all the facts on the event, leaving the results
page empty. Once the event is concluded, we fill in
the results and along with a few pictures taken, we
emailed the stories to the media by 3pm. Occasionally,
we do get some bonus coverage via this method.
Statistics of Finishers from 2003 to 2009
The average turnout rate is between 81 to 88% and we
have probably the highest turnout rate in local road
races. The turnout rate of the women categories has
been encouraging as 15km is considered a long event
for Malaysian women. In the past, women usually compete
in events up to 10km while the 21km and 42km attract
very low participation. Perhaps the 15km will spur them
to attempt the 21km in due course.
Part D : Dissolution after the Event
Post Mortem on Event
This exercise is necessary if we wish to improve on
our performance the next year or not to repeat the same
mistake. We do not hold separate meetings for post mortem
but would discuss it at the monthly committee meeting.
Immediately the week after the event, while the memory
is still fresh, one of us would write down what we observed,
if any shortcomings. It would be circulated via email
for other members of the committee to add on their views.
By the time of the next meeting we have a rough working
document for the next year. (Postmortem.doc)
Closing the Event Account
As an NGO we do not pay out volunteers from 2003 to
2008. However, in 2009, we decided to pay our volunteers
a small token to cover mileage for those who are on
duty on event day and eve of event. Due to this frugal
approach, the club has been profitable in our event
management. We have been ploughing back our profits
to invest in equipment to better manage the event.
The club practice the discipline of closing the event
accounts within one to two months after each event,
large or small. This discipline is to avoid mixing up
the income and expenditure with other events. We make
prompt payments to all our vendors and service providers
as have the working capital to pay. All our collections
are in cash or cheques, except for sponsorship sum that
could come after the conclusion of the event. The committee
would review the event accounts in their monthly meeting
when the event accounts are presented. Some decision
could arise to guide next year's event, both in the
revenue and expenditure side. As the club has more than
6 events a year, such discipline is very critical. We
also practice showing the breakdown of each event's
financial performance in our annual accounts. Therefore,
having an event accounts closed promptly would make
such disclosure to members easy at year end. We are
not obliged to present the event accounts to the sponsors.
Judging the financial performance of the event over
the years, we have succeeded in developing an additional
source of income for the club. We must be thankful to
the individuals who have contributed their time selflessly
for the love of the club and passion for the sport.
Maintaining Relationship with Sponsors
Where possible we do compile a video on the event, a
recording of about 50 minutes or at least a CD of pictures.
We send the video or CD to our sponsors with our acknowledgement
letters to thank the sponsors. This would provide accountability
to the sponsors who supported us. The video and CDs
are very useful when we need to source new or additional
sponsors the following year. Moreover, the video and
CDs will be a permanent record and a piece of history
of the club.
Part E : Proposed Action Plans
|Policy / Objectives
||Build on-line registration
module in website
|An online portal residing
in club's website that would enable runners to register
||Draft manual to guide
||President and one appointed
|A official guide to
event management for reference of the Executive
Committee and Individuals involved in assisting
||Explore sport tourism
potential with Tourism Malaysia
||President and one appointed
||Some funding from Tourism
Malaysia for our event and some joint promotion
on our event abroad.
(Note - This action plan will not include areas that
will be covered or discussed in Module 1 to 5.)
Analysing our own data, we notice our event is quite
well received by the foreigners; especially those from
Singapore. We have been having slightly over 10% of
our entries coming from foreigners. We did not really
promote the event in Singapore but there is a selected
group of expatriates and the SAFRA Running Club from
Singapore (www.safra.sg ) that has been supporting our
event. Looking at the development in overseas event,
it was reported that more than 20,000 of the 38,000
finishers at the 2008 New York City Marathon (www.nyrr.org)
came from outside United States. Similar success was
noted in the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii as plane loads
of Japanese runners come to Honolulu each year.
I feel it is time the club should start working with
Tourism Malaysia to do some joint promotion on this
event, working out some tour packages with tour operators
and market the event and tour overseas. There is a huge
potential out there!
It was a great leap forward by the club and with this
experience of the Pacesetters 15km, we added on the
Great Eastern Pacesetter 30km in 2006. We have build
up a team of individuals able to execute events and
have the back office support to generate certificates
with photographs. We have since been hired by other
event owners to manage their events; namely the Mizuno
Wave Run series from 2005 to 2009 and the Malakoff Power
Run from 2008. On an ad hoc basis, the club also manage
the Orange Run for a petroleum company and the UOB Family
Day Fun Run.
All these successes have impacted the club in some
ways. While the club has earned decent revenue from
these events owned by others, we have overtaxed the
committee. I am doubtful we could sustain going forward
depending on volunteers to manage the many events. At
some point in time, a more professional approach is
needed. The event management piece cannot carry on in
its present form and it become far too taxing for the
elected members and one way to move forward is to introduce
a self employed semi-professional set up by a few individuals
to move it to the next level. It would be pre-matured
to talk about incorporating a company to undertake the
event management but the form and substance of profit
sharing with the semi-professional group should be tried
out to allow refinement of the plan such that it could
achieve a win-win situation for both parties; the club
and the semi-professional group (as discussed in Module
1 & 2).
Our events have also influenced other running groups
to undertake their own events, notably Der
Pacers and Bidor Road Running Club to have their
own events. Klang Pacers have been very successful in
recent years and more or less have reached the standard
of PACM. This year in their 21km event, finisher certificates
with photographs were issued. Bidor has been very encouraging
and managed to host an event of 1,600 entries for a
very small town in April each year.
We can conclude that we have achieved our objectives
since embarking on this journey 7 years ago. The Pacesetters
15km has developed into a valuable franchise, a source
of prime of the club. It is hope that this event would
go on, each third Sunday of May in the many years ahead.
I strongly believe the club will move this event up
the next plateau with good leadership and management.
Wan Yew Leong
1 November 2009