So what exactly is a Fox Trot? These 5K, 10K, and half marathons have popped up in 20 cities around the country. In 2016 alone, Fox Trots raised a combined $250,000 in support of a cure as more than 6,000 people discover how rewarding, and connective, they can be.
Want to host your own local Fox Trot? Being a race director requires a special mix of passion and organization, but breaking it down one step at a time and keeping the end goal in mind can help you successfully cross that finish line. Take it from first-time Fox Trotters Jane and Jack Armistead of Athens, Georgia who share their lessons learned and insider tips.
Jack and his wife Jane, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2011, organized “Outpace Parkinson’s,” a Fox Trot 5K. Although they had hosted a couple of other fundraisers in the past, this was their first run and it far exceeded all expectations.
Whether the idea is to hold a Fox Trot in one month or one year, the first step is to set a date and confirm if permits and local permission are required. The Armisteads looked at a number of venues before settling on the University of Georgia campus. They believe the location helped attract more people, but it hosts many events, leading them to choose a date a year out. Plan your run or walk based on the size, distance and timing that will be fun for you and your community.
As you begin, also set goals: The Armisteads initially expected 75 to 100 participants and set a fundraising goal of $5,000. They were blown away by the turnout, with 450 runners raising nearly $14,000. “It was a very good surprise!” laughed Jane.
Find local expertise.
Connect with local running shops or organizations to get advice or find resources. The Armisteads hired a race company to help with logistics and promotion. “It was a bit of investment up front, but they really know how to attract people, and they have all the equipment for timing and tracking,” said Jack. This might not be right for everyone. Your Fox Trot can be as simple as you wish: You could forgo the timing aspect, for example, and host a "run" instead of a "race."
Insider Tip: Team Fox staff is on hand to help identify the right event structure or resources. From best practices to promotional ideas and helpful templates, we’ll help coach you across the finish line!
Form a committee and connect with sponsors.
The Armisteads organized a seven-person committee to help plan the event, which included two other people who were living with Parkinson’s. They met monthly and were instrumental in reaching out to sponsors.
“Personal contacts are the best,” said Jane. “We reached out to places our committee members with PD had used.”
Business sponsors covered most of the administrative costs, including the race company’s fees, t-shirts, food, water and awards. The next step was recruiting individual sponsors. Additional money was raised through registration fees and individual pledges.
The committee also connected with small businesses for other means of support. A local potter created the awards and branded coasters at a discount. A coffee roaster and therapeutic massage outfit donated gift certificates for special category winners such as “Oldest Male” and “Youngest Runner.”
Be prepared for race day -- and have fun!
On the day of the race, music played while a high school cross-country coach, who was using the race as pre-season training, led participants in warm up exercises, and a boxer did a demonstration of therapeutic Parkinson’s boxing.
The Armisteads have already started planning what they hope will be an annual event!
“It’s a long process, but the end result is worth it!” Jane explained.
Laura Amann is an award-winning freelance writer who contributes personal stories about living with Parkinson’s to the MJFF blog.