How to Get the Most Out of a 5K Race Event

As an apparel decorator, there are so many opportunities in your local community to sell t-shirts. One of these opportunities is through run and walk events. Most cities have 5k races. If your particular city doesn’t, team up with a local charity or cause and plan one!

In a previous post, we talked about 10 Marketing Ideas on a Budget for Your T-Shirt Business. One of the ideas was to sponsor a local event. A run/walk event is perfect to not only get advertising exposure in your community, but also for some great t-shirt sales and a lot of other add-on sales, too.

Plan and organize a 5K race to benefit a local organization or cause. They will need t-shirts! Share on X

What’s the first thing you think of as an apparel decorator when you hear 5k race? The participant t-shirts, right? Now think deeper. What else does it take to arrange a successful race event? Think about it from the perspective of a sponsor of the event. Now also think deeper from the perspective as one of the vendors helping to make the event possible. If you are a supplier for the event organizer, there is much more than t-shirts that you can sell to them.

Pre-Race Day
Before race day even arrives, there needs to be local signage to get people to sign up. Think banners. Vinyl banners are relatively inexpensive and can be printed in full color. With the city permission, hang up banners at busy intersections. These banners would need to be on the larger side so people can easily read them as they drive by. Keep the information concise so they know the day of the race and where to sign up. Don’t forget to include the race logo and if the race is benefiting a particular organization or cause.

5k race banner

Leading up to the race, hang banners around your community so people can register.


During some of these types of events, registrants will run or walk as a team. Usually these teams have their own team shirt for the event. Work with the event organizer so that when people register, you have your contact information available to these people if they want team shirts for their group.

team shirts for 5k race/walk

Many 5k participants will get shirts as a team.

Race Day
On the day of the event, depending on the size of the event, there is a lot more signage needed. As people arrive, include a welcome banner pointing them in the direction where they can pick up their race day materials or for those who are last minute registrants. The registration table/tent will also need a sign designating it.

If the venue is large, there may need to be banners to direct parking. If there are staff who are also directing people to park, they will need bright colored STAFF shirts or safety vests, which you can also supply. It’s also good to note here that the entire staff of the event could use bright colored shirts with STAFF to designate them in the case of questions or emergencies. If the event is large with vendors, you can also supply vinyl banners to mark food and vendor areas.

custom printed safety vest

Custom print safety vests for staff working the parking areas.


Those banners just covered the logistical signage. Now let’s move onto the actual race banners needed. To really make the race event look professional, they will need a large banner for the starting line and also another large banner for the finish line. Other banners along the race route may also be needed to direct runners of turns or potential hazards.

finish line banner examples

A few examples of creating a finish line experience using banners.


Businesses who have paid a certain sponsorship level may have gotten race day signage. Each business who qualifies can have a banner hung at the event. Suggest having elite business sponsors who sponsor water stations along the route. These water stations should also have a banner hanging to show them as a sponsor of the station.

sponsorship banner

Have banners hung for elite sponsorships.


That should complete the banner opportunities. Let’s talk about registration packages. Many races offer those who registered a bag of materials on the day of the event. Instead of using a plastic bag, suggest to the event organizer to use cinch sacks. Runners love cinch sacks to keep their water bottle, shoes, and personal belongings in, such as their keys, cell phone and wallet. Custom print these cinch sacks with the event logo and even your own logo. When the bag is handed off to the registrant when they arrive and sign in, it could include their race bib (the tag with their race number that they wear), sponsor flyers, and their t-shirt. Let’s not forget about the t-shirts themselves. The front can include the event logo with the event sponsors on the back.

custom cinch sack for 5k race

Use a cinch sack to pass out registration materials in instead of a plastic bag.


Many races will break the runners up into male, female, and age categories. Here is another opportunity for more t-shirt sales. Offer to award the top runner in each age bracket with a winners t-shirt.

Don’t forget about the fans! Many people will come just to watch their friends and families run the race. Have custom printed rally towels available to purchase so they can wave them as they root on the runners.

Other Add-On Sales
If the event is benefitting an organization or cause, work with them to sell apparel and other add-ons the day of the event. Offer a percentage of everything you sell to that organization or cause. Make sure you have a sign showing that some of the proceeds of the apparel is going to the cause, and more people will be likely to purchase it. Don’t just have shirts available. Have caps, head bands, bandanas, bumper stickers, and other running gear, too. Have these items printed for the cause and also some generic running designs, too. How many bumper stickers have you seen on cars showing marathons that people have run? Same concept here. Runners like running gear and can never get enough of it.

bumper stickers for runners

Some bumper sticker ideas for runners


Let’s recap:
Local 5k races have a lot of opportunities for custom apparel and add-on sales, more than just the event t-shirt. Work with the event organizer to supply them with all their custom printing needs.

This may include:

Pre-Race Day:
• Large banners to promote race registrations
• Smaller banners for local sponsors to hang up at their business location
• Team shirts

Race Day:
• Parking banners
• Welcome/where to find registration table
• Registration table banner
• Large starting line banner
• Large finish line banner
• Race day sponsor banners
• Food and other vendor area banners

• Shirts
• Safety vests

• Participant t-shirt
• Participant cinch sack

Apparel to benefit the organization/cause:
• T-shirts
• Caps
• Bumper stickers, etc.
• Rally towels

Printed apparel with generic running designs:
• T-shirts
• Tanks
• Shorts
• Bandanas
• Ear warmers
• Caps
• Bumper stickers

Don’t just limit yourself to the event t-shirt! What other items can you think of that we didn’t mention?