Every year on Thanksgiving, communities across the United States hold Turkey Trots – running events typically held to raise funds for charity while burning some calories before the year’s biggest day of feasting.
Festival Foods is a grocery chain that operates 40 stores throughout the state of Wisconsin. They host eleven yearly turkey trots – all at the same time – to encourage people to be active while giving back to their community, with proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs in the communities where the events take place. So far they’ve raised over 3.6 million dollars with over 138,000 participants.
The complexities of planning 11 Running Events on the same day
The Festival Foods Turkey Trots are a huge undertaking, with events taking place at the same time across multiple locations, the team has to manage lots of staff, vendors, and other stakeholders. Running events are always complex. They require significant planning to ensure the safety of both participants and onlookers, often calling for road closures and collaboration with local officials. Crowd management presents a challenge because the crowds of runners as well as the spectators and staff have to be accounted for. Elements like check-in stations, barriers, restrooms, water stations, medics, and traffic signs have to be placed on a site map to ensure the team has everything they need come race day. For Festival Foods, these challenges amplified as their races did.
“We started back in 2008 with three race locations,” shared Brian Stenzel, Senior Director of Community Involvement at Festival Foods. “Now, we’re at eleven all taking place at the same time throughout the state.”
For years, the planning team was placing Google Earth screenshots into PowerPoint and adding pins to place elements on their event sites. It was difficult to stay organized, especially as they grew to eleven simultaneous events.
When the planning team attended a workshop at a Running USA conference, they learned about OnePlan, an event planning software that allows for detailed and accurate site mapping and seamless collaboration with over 130 running event-specific elements. The idea of having one account for 11 races was an exciting prospect. They decided to give it a shot.
Festival Foods has a core team of six people who work on the Turkey Trots. “It’s two of us actively building and editing in One Plan,” shared Brian. “But we’re sharing it with all of the race directors. Each of the 11 locations has a local race director in that city. We’ve been sharing the ‘View Only’ version with them as well as with our vendors.”
Benefits to Festival Foods of using OnePlan
The ability to share their site map with stakeholders and adjust their ability to view or edit based on their role and needs has been great for the Festival Foods team. “For race directors especially it’s been wonderful,” said Brian.
OnePlan has also been extremely useful because of its running-specific and other elements. The Festival Foods team can map out their routes, start and finish areas, cones, turn and straight signs, police locations, volunteer locations, porta potties, aid stations, DJs, speakers, generators, parking areas, indoor site plans, tents, tables and so much more. “I just pull up the menu and go right to the search bar to look for what I need. It’s easy,” said Brian.
The Festival Foods team frequently utilizes OnePlan’s calculations features like the bill of quantities tool, which automatically calculates the quantities of each element needed based on the site map. Dashboard reports show you all of the inventory that’s been placed on the map and exports a comprehensive bill of quantities to a CSV file. “When we were using Google Earth, you had to create parent folders and everything underneath there is very hard to find,” said Brian. “In One Plan, the dashboard has been very helpful. Even just counting up how many left turn signs we need is very easy to do in One Plan.”
Stevens Point – Festival Foods Event Plan
OnePlan was really put to the test this past year when the Festival Foods team took on an additional race. “Stevens Point was a brand new one this year, so One Plan was extremely helpful in getting everything set up there,” said Brian. The team was able to share their site map with the local race director to align on all of the race details.
The team is saving both time and money with OnePlan, and they plan to keep using the program for future Turkey Trots. They hope to see mile markers added to the elements in the running pack soon, and they’re working with the OnePlan team to integrate the software with their own event app.
Overall, OnePlan has been a game changer for the Festival Foods team, allowing them to focus on the important work of hosting fantastic events and giving back to the communities where they operate.