Regardless of which pre-registration service is used, it is important for promoters to configure their online registration setup with the proper level of category detail in order to facilitate the proper registration categories and ultimately the proper breakdown of results.
The underlying guideline is that the registration categories should reflect the lowest level of detail that you will need in order to report results properly. In most cases, this means the BAR category level.
In addition to the standard BAR categories, it is common to offer additional Cat 3 categories for both men and women (shown at left).
For example, if a promoter offers a single registration option for Cat 1, when they go to break out results for 15-29, 30+, and 40+ (required for BAR points and most likely payouts), they won't know which riders belong in which category without making manual adjustments. To alleviate this, the proper setup in this case would be to offer a separate registration categories for Cat 1 15-29, Cat 1 30-39, and Cat 1 40+.
For races that offer age based Junior categories, it is critical that detailed registration categories be offered because riders may elect to race up in age. With a single registration category of 'Juniors', it is not clear what detailed category the rider is attempting to register for.
In addition to facilitating results and payouts, the proper breakdown of registration categories is critical when interfacing with Race Manager, TBRA's registration and results software. Proper configuration of the pre-registration categories will allow a seamless import of pre-registration data into Race Manager.
While most promoters have different preferences on when they like to close their pre-registration, here are a few general guidelines.
Set a closing date as late as realistically possible while still allowing time for essential tasks.
- Auditing pre-registration data:
Some registration providers (USA Cycling for example) allow edit checks in the registration setup to prevent riders from registering for races that they are not eligible to race in. Services that do not have this feature will likely require more lead-time in order to do a final audit on the registration data to make sure that a rider has not signed up for the wrong category.
- Importing or entering pre-registration data into your race software:
Depending on the level of integration, more or less time may be needed. Race Manager setups will import very quickly with a proper pre-race setup.
- TT Seeding:
If your event has a time trial, additional time will likely be needed in order to seed the riders and publish the start list.
- Packet Stuffing:
If you are stuffing custom packets for each rider, then you will likely need more lead-time depending on the size of your race. If bib #'s are included in the packet, you will not be able to begin to finalize the packets until after all the pre-registration data has been processed and bib #'s assigned.
- Staffing Considerations:
Be aware that if registration closes very late on the night prior to your event, your registrar may have already called it a day. The registrar will then have to process the registration on race morning, which could realistically move a 6:00am wakeup call back to 4:30am or earlier. If you are closing registration on the the night before the race, it's best to leave enough time to digest everything completely on that night. By the night before a race, riders should know whether they are racing or not, and extending the deadline to the wee hours of the night is not doing much good at that point.
In choosing an exact closing time, consider the following.
- Use careful wording:
Avoid using ambiguous terms such as 'midnight' which are often incorrectly interpreted. Use 11:59pm instead.
The term 'noon' is fairly safe since it is clear which day it belongs to, and in reality it is probably more clear than '12:00pm'.
- Avoid using times that cross midnight based on time zone:
A closing time of 11:59pm CT will be referred to as 'late night' by riders in central time, but may confusingly (but correctly) be interpreted as early morning by riders in eastern time. A better solution for a race in central time would be to close registration at 10:59pm CT, which is 11:59pm ET. Both times would be looked at as late night on the same day.
- Always specify AM or PM in all online and printed materials.
- Clarify the time zone on all online and printed materials:
Always specify either CT or ET; don't make riders guess what time zone your race is in. Be aware that the closing time entered into your particular registration provider may not match the time zone of your race. For example, the closing time for USAC pre-registration is entered and will display online as mountain time.
- Avoid confusion with Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time:
As an example for Eastern time, avoid using the terms EST and EDT to reference Standard Time and Daylight Savings time; just use the more simplistic and less error prone ET.
USA Cycling rules prohibit opening pre-registration for an event before the event is officially permitted. Registration may be set up and posted with a opening date in the future, but registration should not be active until after the event is permitted.