A later River Festival means a later Kansas Health Foundation River Run, but that hasn’t hampered efforts to get runners signed up.
The River Run, according to Wichita Festivals community engagement director Meghan Doyle, is on track to top last year’s registration totals of 4,200. The event, scheduled to begin downtown at 7 a.m. Saturday with the 10-kilometer race, is seeing increased popularity even though late May is hotter than early May, when the Festival was held prior to 2011.
“That hasn’t really seemed to be a deterrent for most people,” Doyle said.
Doyle is in her first season with Wichita Festivals and has overseen new approaches in how the message gets out, even though the River Run is a Wichita staple with which most are familiar.
Doyle and her staff have used technology to gain a wider reach for potential registrations and contacted past racers more frequently.
“This year we mailed out postcards, and we’ve done a little more of the social media side of things,” Doyle said. “…We’ve also tried to use more targeted e-blasts to our past runners and participants to try to keep them engaged.”
Doyle said Wichita Festivals is gaining a larger participation pool for the River Run by letting runners know about earlier, lower-priced registration dates that concluded at the end of March. Wichita Festivals has also targeted families who could see adults run the 10K or 2-mile races while kids participate in youth competitions.
Even though Doyle and the marketing staff are searching for new ways to spread information, the tried-and-true methods are still working. Festivals staff registered runners at WaterWalk downtown from Thursday morning until 8 p.m. and will do the same Friday before signing up last-minute participants before Saturday’s race.
Runners also flocked to gorunyourrace.com to sign up, with a bulk of the more than 2,000 sign-ups before Thursday coming online.
“That’s kind of how it has been in past years,” Doyle said. “That’s just what we’ve done.”