Organising an event
Organising an athletics event, especially for the first time, can be a daunting experience. Please use this information to help guide you through the stages of preparing for and hosting a track and field event. This guide can be used for both Indoor and Outdoor Track and field, and some of the principles will apply across various other disciplines of the sport too.
To host a licensed athletics event in England your club / organisation must be affiliated to England Athletics.
- Visit the affiliating your club page for more information.
You need to determine whether athletes will use your event to get a qualifying standard for selection for a National Team (U18/U20/U23/Senior). If so you will need to apply for a level 2 licence. If qualification is not of paramount importance, then apply for a level 1 licence. All licensed events (Level 1 or 2) have performances recorded on the Power of 10 website.
NB: the majority of competitions held in England are Level 1 competitions.
Level 1 licences are issued by England Athletics and Level 2 by UKA, however the application form is the same. There is an option to declare that you would like to be considered for a level 2 licence. Level 2 licences are issued to experienced competition organisers and so please expect some questions following your licence application.
Events seeking World Para Athletics (WPA) Endorsement must meet all Level 2 Licence requirements. This is only appropriate for competitions with WPA Licensed / Classified athletes competing in Field Events & Track Events 400m+.
You will be asked when applying for a licence for your event to confirm that a risk assessment has been carried out for your event.
A risk assessment is one of the most important tools when planning your event, as it ensures that you have thought about all risks and how to mitigate these risks at each stage of the competition. The main aim of a risk assessment is to identify hazards at the event and put measures in place to reduce that hazard.
UK Athletics have useful information on their website about how to approach a risk assessment.
A downloadable document providing guidelines and advice for a safe athletics competition (PDF 913kB) can be downloaded on the British Athletics website.
A generic risk assessment for an outdoor track and field competition (PDF 107kB) can also be viewed on the British Athletics website.
Blank Risk Assessment templates are available for download with additional templates for different types of competition, including televised meets and indoor competition.
Once you have decided what level of licence you will be applying for you need to source an appropriate venue for that event. A full list of venues can be viewed using the links below:
All licensed competition must take place in a venue which is fully Track Mark accredited. Full details regarding UKA processes for facilities can be viewed on the Facilities section of the UKA website.
We recommend visiting the venue of choice and taking with you a qualified official to help check the equipment onsite relevant for your competition. TrackMark certification does not at this moment in time include moveable equipment.
Once you have selected your venue, give the venue the event preparation checklists from the Facilities section of the UKA website under Equipment, Management and Maintenance heading explaining that these are nationally devised standards and that this is how you expect to find the venue, when you arrive on event day.
Clarify the capacity for venue car and coach parking and make contingency arrangements if attendance is likely to exceed this, bearing in mind other non-athletics events which are scheduled at the location.
Determine what support you will receive from stadium staff, and what, if any gaps you may need to fill in with volunteers. Roles like roping off throws areas, moving hurdles and the like are often facilitated by stadium staff, so bear this in mind.
Ensure it is clear with the venue what toilets, including accessible toilet provision will be open and usable at the event. If toilets are not included within the contract, alternative solutions must be investigated, including dedicated toilets for officials as necessary. You may need to work with the venue to ascertain a suitable space for these with access to a water supply, if appropriate.
Ensure that the stadium booking process allows you to specify in detail the events you intend to include and the equipment you require. Pay particular attention to the availability of throwing implements where younger age-groups, Paralympic, and master’s events are included. Also check that hurdles (including steeplechase barriers) can be adjusted for all required age-group heights. Check that the water jump can be filled and does not leak excessively. Some venues will prepare a written event rider to capture the agreed details.
Ensure that the venue has a set of certified weighing scales so that the Technical Manager or Referee can check supplied and personal implements. In a perfect world, all venues would have a full set of implement gauges and measuring tools, but officials will often provide their own.
If Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM) equipment is not available, check that the venue has enough measuring tapes to meet your competition needs. These are items that are frequently damaged.
Officials are intrinsically linked to licensing and competition. If you do not cite on the licence application that you will have the correct number of Officials for the event, then you may not be granted a licence. Every licence application is checked first by the Regional Licensing Officer, and then by a member of staff. It is not issued automatically. It is therefore important that you identify and check availability for the following key personnel:
- Chief Timekeeper
- Chief Photo finish (if using photo finish)
- Field Referee
- Track Referee
- Walk Referee
You will be asked for the name and URN of these individuals on the licence application so when appointing people please ask for these credentials.
Sourcing officials can sometimes be quite challenging, especially if you are new to the sport and do not personally know Officials. Please use the following people and resources to help appoint a full complement of officials relevant for your competition:
- County Officials’ Secretaries – Their main role is to appoint Officials for County events, but some will be able to help spread the word about your event and help appoint Officials for you.
- Tri Regional Officials’ Secretaries (PDF 67kB) – Mainly focussed on Area level competitions but again are sometimes very useful to help publicise your event
- England Athletics Officials Facebook group – This Facebook group is a great way to showcase your event to a wide range of Officials. This is a private group so you must have a Facebook account to be able to join. This is not managed by EA.
- Regional Councils – The regional councils of England Athletics have a good network of volunteer links in their local areas; it is always good to reach out to these people.
- Regional Council Licensing Officers – These are responsible for the first line of event licence applications and have a good network to help spread details of your event. Please go through your Regional Councils for contact details or email email@example.com
Recruit your officials as early as possible. For the outdoor season, once national appointments are announced at the end of January many officials will rapidly fill their diaries.
Give careful consideration to optimising the distribution of officials. Many are qualified at different levels in different disciplines. Whilst the practice of allocating certain field events to certain clubs in league matches has advantages, referees also need the flexibility to redistribute officials to ensure that all events are safely covered by suitably qualified officials. For record ratifications the Chief/Referee in the relevant discipline must be Level 4.
When planning for your event it is important to understand who will be at the event and what systems you may need to implement to ensure a duty of care to those involved.
If you have youngsters or spectators at an event, it is important to speak with your venue about lost child/vulnerable person procedures and ensure you have a system implemented should this arise.
Consider what, if any technical resources you may need like radios or phone number information sheets if something like this does arise. If radios are to be used, provide a concise guide to the correct voice protocols.
It is important to consider any volunteers on the day of the competition, how long they will be there and access to refreshments and sustenance. There is guidance for Officials that they must not officiate for any more than 8 hours, and breaks should be given within this timeframe. Please review the Officials Duty of Care sheet for further information specifically relating to the welfare of Officials and Volunteers.
It is good practice to have a welfare officer at an event in that official capacity, however it is not mandatory. Please just reference in your risk assessment how people and their welfare will be treated against any perceived risk.
Catering and Waste Management
It may be necessary to hire in or open catering facilities at the venue where the competition is being held. Ensure that any in house catering has the appropriate food hygiene certificates. Equally if you are hiring in catering units ensure that each mobile unit has a risk assessment and appropriate catering certificates. To avoid frustrating delays for spectators, try to predict attendance numbers and prepare accordingly.
Often this comes under the umbrella of a venue. Just check what the protocol is for waste management, i.e are they doing it, do they require payment for it or does the venue hire cover it? It is also worth asking the venue about their waste management systems. Where possible we are trying to work towards and encourage recycling or waste at events and use of sustainable materials. Of course, this may not always be possible but you can ask the question of the venue or waste management company appointed.
Pre-Event Information and Marketing
It is important that you communicate regularly with your participants, volunteers and Officials for the event.
They will need to know car parking arrangements, timetables, lunch arrangements, onsite facilities and the like. Where appropriate, include progression standards, opening heights for vertical jumps and any restrictions on triple jump boards. Be mindful of anyone attending the event who may have an impairment or disability and what they may need to know before the event, i.e. accessible parking spaces.
Your volunteers, especially those not familiar with the event, may also need to have a meeting point and explanations for their roles if they have never done them before – the experienced officials may not require this, but they will need to know when and where the Officials Briefing is taking place. If you have people who have never officiated before attending the event, consider how you will communicate the roles with them and provide support and friendship/mentoring for them at the event.
We recommend that you set up a social media page for your event. This will make it easier to disseminate information to your officials and participants.
Popular social media platforms are:
- Tik Tok
On some platforms you can also use paid advertisements if you wish to try reach a wider audience and increase interest and entries for your event.
On any platform used please tag England Athletics to help market to a ready-made athletics audience.
You will have to decide how you take entries. The common theme now is online entries and payment.
England Athletics have partnered with a results and entry system called Roster Athletics. This service primarily provides a solution for Track and Field events.
You can of course have on the day entries and accept email entry forms, however using Roster means that it is easier to communicate with the participants.
If you will have integrated events for disabled athletes, ensure that there is some method of communicating with the event organiser any reasonable adjustments that would need to be made for them to compete.
Insurance and First Aid
Organisations in England must be affiliated to England Athletics before applying for a licence to be covered under the insurance cover. Further details of the insurance can be viewed on the UKA Insurance Zone.
All Event Organisers should ensure they have sufficient first aid cover in place for their event. Licence applications will not be approved until this has been confirmed. If you are unsure what level of first aid is required for your event, seek advice from a professional medical provider on recommended cover.
To identify an appropriate level of medical cover without professional advice or before you speak to professionals for advice, then think about the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- Number of participants across the day
- Number of spectators on site
- The age demographic of the people competing and attending – i.e., is it more or less likely that they could have an injury or a life-threatening incident?
- The type of activity. Think about if the people will consume alcohol and if it will be a rowdy atmosphere. Or whether it will be more like athletics events which are relatively calm. This will help inform how many incidents may occur.
- Consider the impact on the NHS. Especially during COVID liaising with the Local Authority and Safety Advisory groups is key to determining capacity at local hospitals should an ambulance be required at your event.
When you are looking to appoint a first aid company it is recommended that you get references for their work. Make sure they have appropriate insurance. If they only have one emergency vehicle, plan for what happens to the competition if that vehicle is off site taking a casualty to hospital.
If you will be hosting many events, the purple guide has a really useful framework for identifying what first aid cover is required, there is a membership fee of £25.00 annually.
- Download the Athletics Unified Event First Aid Guidance (PDF 180kB)
When creating a timetable you must first consider how far the athletes and Officials attending your competition have to travel. Ensure athletes have enough time to travel to the venue, register for the event, if appropriate, and warm up.
As a rough guide please use the format below:
|100m||5 mins||3-4 mins|
|200m||5 mins||3-4 mins|
|Sprint Hurdles||7 mins||5-6 mins|
|4x100m||10 mins||7 mins|
|400m||7 mins||5 mins|
|400mH||10 mins or 7 mins if 1st event or following a break)||5-6 mins|
|800m||7 mins||5 mins|
|1500m||10 mins||7 mins|
|4x400m||10 mins||7 mins|
|3000mSC||15 mins||12 mins|
|5000m and 10000m||Dependent on athletes’ PBs||Dependent on athletes’ PBs|
These times factor in officials moving from one start area to another and preparing themselves and the athletes for each different race.
For junior events (75m, 300m, etc.) use the time for the closest event (100m, 400m) as the reduced distance should produce approximately similar running times to Seniors running the full distance.
Depending on the event, you might also want to change the times due to other factors. An event aimed at U11s or U13s where blocks will not be used might not require as much time per race. You may also find that hurdles require more or less time depending on how many officials/volunteers/staff are available to move and adjust them. You might also want additional time to showcase an important final or medal ceremonies. Finally, always consider the number of officials delivering your timetable and whether what you are asking them to do is realistic within the timescale you give them.
For a full day’s meeting, also don’t forget to schedule breaks in the programme: 2-5 minutes throughout the meeting can help to make up time if the event ever falls behind. Ensure these time gaps are not significant enough to look like a gap in the programme. Remember athletes and officials will need a lunch break during a full day’s competition.
Field events are more difficult to give a rough indication of. A competition for 10 U11s lined up to long jump, for example, can be completed much, much more quickly than the same event for 20 seniors. Wherever possible, base timings on a previous similar event, considering the average time per trial in that age group last time and the number of athletes entered this time.
Similar to track, the time an event will take can also depend on how many officials/volunteers are there to deliver it and how much experience they have. Equipment like EDMs can also speed things up. Don’t forget to leave time for warm up trials too if field events will take place back-to-back.
Event organisers can also ask their Meeting Manager or Referees for feedback before publishing their timetable. Before being appointed to these roles, these officials probably have a decent amount of officiating experience and an idea of how long their team will take to deliver each event. They’d be a good source of support for anyone who is unsure.
As the competition organiser you should make sure that you are the first person to arrive on site. You are integral to the success and execution of the event and should be onsite to direct people and suppliers appropriately. If you are unable to be onsite you should deputise someone else to facilitate this role and communicate to all volunteers / officials and venue staff who will be this point of contact.
It is good practice to log everyone who arrives on site who is working at your event, whether they are an Official, member of staff, volunteer or someone helping out. A simple signing-in/out sheet is usually enough.
Ensure the referees are aware of the classification of any para-athletes and related info (e.g. a deaf athlete who can lip-read).
Competition Equipment/Photo Finish
Ensure that Photo Finish equipment, if used, is set up in plenty of time to allow the finish line to be re-marked with 50mm white, adhesive tape if necessary and the lane junctions to be marked with black tape. Time must be allowed for a Zero Control Test to be carried out. This is mandatory under WA/UKA Rules.
As the organiser you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that Field event boards are in position at the appropriate locations in line with the timetable, although this will usually be delegated to the Technical Manager or Field Referee. You should make sure that each event station has all the equipment that the Officials require to do their job. This will save time when the Officials arrive and will ensure the event starts at the correct time.
If you are unsure what equipment should be at each station, speak to your Field and Track referees who will be able to help with this information. It is also vital that once you have this information you check with the venue that they have what you require; if not, you can source from alternative venues if necessary.
Ensure that the Technical Manager (if appointed) and the Field Referees have time to check all the facilities before competition begins. The Track Referee will want to check the water jump and track kerbing.
Walk the journey of an Official and Athlete for your event, ideally prior to the day to think about what signs are needed. Does the venue have sufficient signage, or do you need to make athletes and officials aware of other areas? The more you do in advance, the easier it is to set up on the day of the competition. Time is limited on competition day, even if you arrive at 6am, something will invariably happen. Consider, if appropriate arriving the day before and setting up areas.
It is good for you to also brand your signage, even if it’s just printed pieces of A4. This solidifies the message of your event and who the host organiser is.
Don’t over brand your event. Think about how many people you have to help you and the size of the stadium. The most important signs are those which show entrance to the venue, registration (athlete/official) warm up, call room (if applicable) call up schedule (if applicable) toilets and exit. Then additional signage if you are using external throws cages and the like. Any additional signage and / or branding is an added bonus to make the stadium look attractive.
Ensure you have a box of useful items with you to help resolve any issues which may arise throughout the day. Suggested items are below:
- Hazard tape
- Mobile phone
- Radio (if appropriate)
- Pins (athlete pins and those for pining up signs)
- Spare numbers
- Black marker
- Tape measure
- Multi tool
Ensure those who are being allocated a radio know they have been allocated one and what channel they are on if multiple channels are being used. It is useful to provide a radio list to put up in the Officials Room and other key rooms where volunteers are based.
Of course, many people use mobile phones rather than radios at events as radios are an additional expense, and often a luxury. If you are just using mobile phones, ensure that the numbers are suitably displayed should people need to be contacted in an emergency.
Often key people are:
- Event Referees
- Meeting Manager
- First Aid
You decide which numbers will need to be made publicly available and how these key people will be communicated on event day.
Volunteers are the support network for events and so it is important that you provide them with all the information that they require. Try to ensure that the event environment you set up is inviting and encouraging. If this is the first experience of being a volunteer, then they may not know anyone and may be unsure of what to expect. Try to ease them into the event and guide them through – if necessary, provide a buddy for them or a point of contact should they have queries or difficulties.
Providing lunch for all volunteers at your event is always well received; tea and coffee is usually the minimum offered for volunteers at events. It is key that a suitable ‘rest’ room for volunteers is allocated to ensure that there is somewhere, ideally indoors or weatherproof for them to sit and relax or have lunch when it is their break times.
Ensure you leave the venue as you found it. Take down any additional signage that was erected for your event.
Tidy and clear the venue in accordance with the contract signed for the event.
Results will have been published throughout the day, either electronically using a system like Roster Athletics or similar, or they will have been posted up on paper at the stadium. It is important that a full set of results is published for your event. Ensure that you do this on your websites and social media channels as soon as is practicable for you. Athletes like results as quickly as possible so anything you can do to make this happen will enhance the experience for the athletes at your event.
- For licensed competitions please send your results to Power of 10. Power of 10 is the athlete ranking site.
- Email for results: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send the results as an Excel file. Presentation guidance for results can be found on the Power of 10 organiser pages.
Photos and Marketing
Try take some pictures at your event of athletes and volunteers. This will firstly give you promotional materials for social media channels, and a reason for athletes to follow you on your social accounts, but it will also provide you with a resource bank which can be used in future years for promotion of your competition.
Ensure anyone acting in an official photographer capacity can be identified as such. Ensure those present at your events know a photographer will be onsite, as this can be a sensitive topic.
It is important to seek feedback from everyone who attended your event. This can be carried out on the day verbally, or by sending a feedback survey after your event by email.
There are several easy ways online to obtain feedback, one is simple email circulation. Please ensure all email addresses are Bcc’d to comply with data protection.
Other alternatives are Google Forms. You can email a link to recipients or add the link to your website/social media channels to gauge feedback. Mailchimp or another email marketing company can also be used for this kind of communication and feedback.
While this page provides a framework for what to think about when hosting a competition, there may still be queries. Please feel free to contact Nichola Skedgel email@example.com for further guidance or support. For anyone wishing further guidance on how to host inclusive events please contact Job King firstname.lastname@example.org
While some of this information will be useful If you are hosting a league match, the leagues have guidance for their club hosts on their own websites too, so please do take a look at that in conjunction with this information.
Our digital support area with a range of useful resources for clubs.