Around the World 5K – Ask the Expert 

What questions do Around the World 5K race participants (and those considering the race) have for us?  Check out our Frequently Asked Questions section and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, please send us a message at afterschoolplans@gmail.com.  We’ll do our best to provide you with helpful and comprehensive answers!

  1. How to work with the CLO at your embassy?

The Around the World 5K is an event organized by volunteer State Department eligible family members (EFMs).  It is, in part, a charitable event.  Mission and community liaison office (CLO) staff are prohibited from fundraising and officially supporting charitable endeavors.  As such, any collaboration with your CLO must be done unofficially and with full disclosure of the separation between the CLO and the race.  That said, your CLO can be an incredibly helpful partner in getting the world out about your Around the World 5k.  Your CLO CAN publish ads about your race in your community’s newsletter.  It can also agree to post your flyers about the race in the CLO office.  Your CLO should also be able to use post social media options to share race information and encourage participation.  Talk to you CLO early to see what he/she is willing to do to partner with you and your race teammates.  

                2. How to Organize/Manage a team?

If you want to share your Around the World 5K experience with other members of your community (the more the merrier!), there are multiple ways to do so.  We suggest you first work with your community to save or set a race date in April and do what you can to stick to it.  Calendars may not be filling up as quickly during these difficult Covid days, but many families remain busy on weekends and being able to put a race date on a calendar is both motivating and helpful in securing maximum participation.    

As noted in the FAQ on working with the CLO, many CLOs are very willing to help you promote the race in mission newsletters (with appropriate disclosures that the race is not CLO-sanctioned), with flyers, and related announcements.  Promote your race where and how you can.    

Many missions run races with many partners, the Marines, including local staff, local running clubs (think Hash House Harriers), and kids’ running groups, including groups like Girls Strong.   

If you are interested in serving as your mission’s race “coordinator,” you may wish to use your name as a contact for questions.  You also could compile contact information on race participants and send periodic messages with race information and motivational thoughts.  When you leave a post, pass the torch by working to identify a new coordinator or champion of the race!         

Some missions charge nominal race fees to enter.  Please remember that the mission of the race is to promote community, encourage an active lifestyle, and raise money for charity!  The race is not a money-making endeavor and the experience that participants have will encourage them to participate again and at future posts and preserve the reputation and legacy of the race.  If any fees are collected, race coordinators or organizers should clearly delineate the breakdown of those fees, i.e., how much will go to charity (either the identified global charity and/or any local ones), how much will cover race costs, including race swag, snacks, park entry fees, etc.  It is each mission’s/team’s responsibility to ensure that money raised for charity gets to that charity.  Race organizers advocate for total transparency.  

All this said, many solo runners participate in the Around the World 5K.  If a team isn’t your thing, you can certainly participate as an individual.  We welcome everyone! 

            3. How to run/walk a 5K for the first time?  

Are you new to running but don’t know how to get started?  Want to set the Around the World 5K as a goal?  There are several programs that can help guide your training.  The famous Couch to 5K program is designed to get “just about anyone from the couch to running 5 kilometers or 30 minutes in just 9 weeks.”  Check out c25k.com. Here’s a 6-week program for true beginners from Runner’s World, which assumes you will likely take some walking breaks during your 5k (perfectly fine!): https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/5km/a760067/six-week-beginner-5k-schedule/

And the “None to Run” program eases beginners in more slowly with a 12-week program (start at the beginning of February and you can still run in April!): see http://www.nonetorun.com

There are also several free or low-cost “Couch to 5K” apps that can help make your training easy and fun (None to Run has an app as well). The app will talk you through the weekly training (typically 20 or 30 minutes, 3 times a week, for 8 or 9 weeks). For instance, you might walk for 2 minutes, run for 2 minutes, then walk again, and the app will coach you through it. You can add your own music or use a playlist provided by the app. Recruit some friends to join you, and you can follow each other’s progress and support each other with encouraging comments

And if you need additional motivation, please check out Patricia Linderman’s article 10 Ways to Build and Keep Your New Running Habit While Having Lots of Fun! in the Ask the Expert section of our website.  

           4. How to Find/Identify a Route?

Around the World 5K race organizers, above all, want all participants to have fun and be safe with this race.  As you consider a race route, please don’t forget to consider traffic concerns, your post city’s respect for runners and pedestrians, etc.  If there are local trails or parks that provide runners and walkers with dedicated spaces for activities, consider those seriously.  Some cities close down streets to cars for dedicated exercise on particular days of the week and at specific times.  Time your race to coincide with those parameters.  

If you’re racing with a group, consider the varying levels of participants.  Newbies might be intimidated by hills or uneven terrain.  Flat, open, level paths, trails, or streets are ideal.  

If a number of children will participate in the race, you might consider a course that allows for small children to bike or use a scooter.  

An out and back or loop course is likely more manageable than a course that starts in one place and ends in another.  A route that includes multiple loops on the same course can allow for children or walkers to do a shorter distance, yet still participate.  Another option is to mark turnaround areas on an out and back route for those aiming to walk or run a shorter distance.  

Once you’ve identified a possible route, it should be measured to ensure that it is – or can add up to – a 5K.  We suggest using multiple means or devices to measure your route.

           5. How to make your race fun and/or incorporate race themes?

Around the World 5K races span the gamut.  Many participants run individually, others with family members, and many as a community.  Some races have involved as many as 50+ participants with matching t-shirts!  Make it what you want it to be – or as one of our experts recommends:  “Meet it where it is!”  Here are some ideas used in the past:  

  • Run with kids:  encourage mission kids to participate!  
  • Feed your participants:  if you are able, provide beverages and snacks for race participants.  A large jug of water and sectioned oranges and/or bananas don’t cost much.  Organizers may choose to ask for donations for post-race snacks and drinks.  If you choose to do so, we suggest that you be clear that that is what donations are for.  
  • Pick a theme: want to run in tutus or silly hats or in the same t-shirts?  Use the race logo for race swag!  In some cases, race organizers can help point you in the right direction if you don’t have a local vendor to print merchandise.  Are race helpers willing to make it a color run?  Have some chalk powder ready and get to tossing!  Races can be even more fun when participants share a common costume or theme.
  • Involve community members who won’t be running or walking:  There’s a role for non-racers as well.  They can cheer on runners and walkers, help distribute snacks or loop bands (if, for example, a race has multiple loops and runners want to keep track of loops completed), hand out medals or other race prizes that a mission has planned.  
  • Tie the race to a community event:  turn the race into an afternoon in the park, host a pancake breakfast, etc.  
  • Celebrate and share your accomplishments:  The Around the World 5K is an event that’s also designed to celebrate our communities and healthy living worldwide.  Teams can order inexpensive finisher medals from a website like https://www.expressmedals.com/1-3-4-5K-Medal-p/wam995.htmLet community members know about the Around the World 5K Facebook page and website.  Share pictures and stats and you’ll be eligible for race prizes.  Race organizers love to hear from you!